Friday, September 10, 2010

100 Words About: Samsara

I'm not a Buddhist, but I think in Buddhist terms about a lot of things. I love the idea of intelligent compassion, and Impermanence has become part of my personal philosophy in a way that no other spiritual doctrine has.

The part of Buddhism I'm not into the most is Nirvana.

The whole point of Buddhism is reaching Nirvana, severing one's ties to Samsara, the wheel of pain, the cycle of death and rebirth. Well, I'm sorry, but I like it here, pain and all. (Being a masochist helps with that, I think, but there is plenty of pain I don't enjoy.)

In terms of the Parable of the Burning House, I think I'm standing in the doorway. Yeah, I know the house is on fire, and that I can walk out of the house, and that walking out of the house might even be a good thing. But I'd rather stand in the doorway and watch the pretty flames, and feel the adrenaline rush of doing something supremely stupid and possibly self-destructive.

The fact that I'm willfully choosing to remain on that threshold makes me feel better about it, which is weird when you think about it. So often we excuse people's behavior by saying that they didn't know any better. Unlike many people on the wheel, I know I can step off of it; I just choose not to. I don't think this makes me better than anyone else, just better informed. I made the decision long ago to make active choices in my life, but I'm still figuring out the balance between self-esteem and pride, humility and lack of self-confidence or self-worth, and individuality versus emptiness. I think balance is important, and it's one of the things Buddhism has always seemed to lack, at least to me. But maybe that just demonstrates how far I am from Enlightenment.

Works for me.

Image: Arvind Balaraman /

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