Friday, December 14, 2007

Buddhistic kvetching: An awakening in three azoys

Chapter the first:

To be Jewish is to kvetch, which means, to complain persistently, chronically, and whiningly.

Buddhism teaches four truths about getting acquainted with reality:

1. Life is suffering;
2. Suffering is due to attachment;
3. Attachment can be overcome;
4. There is a path for accomplishing this.

Considering the diametrically opposed ethoses* represented by these two conditions (the condition of being Jewish, the condition of awakening to the light), it is a wonder how many Jews choose to be Buddhists. They call themselves, most appropriately, Boojoos (or Bujus), which reminds me directly of Lewis Carroll 's poem: "The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits)":

In the midst of the word he was trying to say
In the midst of his laughter and glee
He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.


So you see why I was reminded of this poem? Never mind that it is about "the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature".

Need more be said?

Chapter the second:

Sayings of the Jewish Buddhist:

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life; with the first sip, joy; with the second sip, satisfaction; with the third sip, peace; with the fourth, a Danish.

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.

There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.

The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish.


Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as a wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.

Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says, Love your neighbor as yourself. The Buddha says, There is no self. So, maybe we're off the hook.

________

*If anyone knows the proper plural for "ethos", would they please leave me a note?

Chapter the third:

No sooner said than done. Moishe Kapoyer left a funny comment:

Regarding the plural of ethos -- I don't know. Maybe it's ethoi, as in hoi polloi? If I'm right, who will say I'm a scholar? If I'm just plain wrong, who will sneer that I'm a "maven?" And if I don't finish grading my finals instead of reading blogs, will the dean call?

A suggestion. If the blog is not being submitted to an academic journal, why not reword the sentence? For example,"Considering that 'kvetching' (Jewish) and 'seeing the light' (Bhuddist)are diametrically opposed approaches to [a fulfilling] life, et cetera.... Ethos, shmethos!

Now you can choose between kvetching about my suggestion or seeing the light (as in suppressing the self which may not even exist). It's a win-win situation, because if you don't like my suggestion, I can also kvetch and our lives will take on who knows what new meaning. If you do like my suggestion, a glass of tea and a Danish would be a wonderful way for each of us to celebrate.


A word to the wise:

Who is "Moishe Kapoyer"?

Kapoyr means upside-down. The original Moyshe Kapoyr was a character created by the columnist B. Kovner, who had a humour column in the Forverts; Moyshe would always do exactly the opposite of what you would expect a person to do in a given situation.

Here is one Jew who found out before it was too late about the far reaching benefits of doing exactly the opposite:

George : It's not working, Jerry. It's just not working.

Jerry : What is it that isn't working?

George : ... My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat ... It's all been wrong.

( A waitress comes up to G )

Waitress : Tuna on toast, coleslaw, cup of coffee.
George : Yeah. No, no, no, wait a minute, I always have tuna on toast. Nothing's ever worked out for me with tuna on toast. I want the complete opposite of on toast. Chicken salad, on rye, untoasted ... and a cup of tea.
Elaine : Well, there's no telling what can happen from this.
Jerry : You know chicken salad is not the opposite of tuna, salmon is the opposite of tuna, 'cos salmon swim against the current, and the tuna swim with it.
George : Good for the tuna.

( A blonde looks at George )

Elaine : Ah, George, you know, that woman just looked at you.
George : So what? What am I supposed to do?
Elaine : Go talk to her.
George : Elaine, bald men, with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don't approach strange women.
Jerry : Well here's your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.
George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
George : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do
something!


( He goes over to the woman )

George : Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you were looking in my direction.
Victoria : Oh, yes I was, you just ordered the same exact lunch as me.

( G takes a deep breath )

George : My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents.
Victoria : I'm Victoria. Hi.


And the rest is history.



7 Comments:

At 7:30 PM EST, Blogger Bald Headed Geek said...

Not apropos your subject, but Lance Thruster" responded to you on my blog.......

BHG

 
At 8:14 PM EST, Blogger Asher Abrams said...

"ethoi"?

 
At 8:16 PM EST, Blogger Asher Abrams said...

Heh. I've seen a number of variations on the "Jewish Buddhist sayings" theme, but this batch is among the cleverest, I think.

 
At 10:51 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Thanks, AA

 
At 1:49 PM EST, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

A central problem with Buddhism for a Jew is that there is no chicken soup in it. Too bad for Buddhism, it cannot gain a most vocal and persistent flock there is.

 
At 1:33 PM EST, Anonymous Moishe Kapoyer said...

Regarding the plural of ethos -- I don't know. Maybe it's ethoi, as in hoi polloi? If I'm right, who will say I'm a scholar? If I'm just plain wrong, who will sneer that I'm a "maven?" And if I don't finish grading my finals instead of reading blogs, will the dean call?

A suggestion. If the blog is not being submitted to an academic journal, why not reword the sentence? For example,"Considering that 'kvetching' (Jewish) and 'seeing the light' (Bhuddist)are diametrically opposed approaches to [a fulfilling] life, et cetera.... Ethos, shmethos!

Now you can choose between kvetching about my suggestion or seeing the light (as in suppressing the self which may not even exist). It's a win-win situation, because if you don't like my suggestion, I can also kvetch and our lives will take on who knows what new meaning. If you do like my suggestion, a glass of tea and a Danish would be a wonderful way for each of us to celebrate.

 
At 2:27 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

It's a good suggestion, Moishe but there are two problems with it:

1. that it is your formulation and not mine. I'm very possessive about my formulations..

and

2. that it avoids the use of "The condition of being Jewish".. which I happen to think is an ironic necessity in this humble blogpost of mine.

But it was great fun reading your comment. You rose to the occasion with great gusto!

I'm going to take your advice on the Danish, though, but with a slight modification: it will have to be a coffee instead of tea. Can one still kvetch over a grande solo latte?

 

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