Friday, September 10, 2010

Homer Simpson and Bumbling Buddhas

Bookbird has a wonderful post about being pretty new to Buddhist practice, and feeling like our buddy Homer Simpson. It's interesting. I've been doing this stuff for almost a decade now, and yet, I don't feel much differently. And given where I am in my life right now, it seems like one big, bumbling "don't know" after another. Bookbird writes:

I feel like Homer Simpson, walking into walls and shouting D'oh! That is me. I kind of wondered to myself, what business is it of mine to have anything to say here? I dont know anything!

About a year ago I was talking to my friend M, and we were saying what a bummer it was to realise life was a delusion and that we were creating our own suffering. Now that I am woken up in this way I CAN NEVER GO BACK. I want to, sometimes. I want to get mad at people and blame them and eat cookies and reinforce that it was completely the fault of my childhood. I don't want to remember that if I am mindful I can work with my anger, and my cookie addiction.

Yeah, you know sometimes I feel like all of this practice has just screwed me. Why? Because even when I blame others for my situation, I just don't believe it for very long. The story doesn't hold up, and then I'm left with seeing what's there, and how I contributed to it. The cheap and easy pleasure of saying some fuckhead caused my problems, or that the system (whatever system) is totally responsible for my sorrows, is gone. Like Bookbird, I get deeply that sense of never being able to go back.

Even though I feel screwed sometimes, I don't want to go back. The internal extremes and ever-ready manufacturing of misery that marked my teens and twenties just isn't worth repeating, even if I had a few more close friends, and little more "fun" than I do now.

You know, I like Homer though. He is eternally optimistic. He gets scared. He tries new things. He looks like an idiot. He laughs a lot. He feels things deeply but can also let things go. He's not afraid to be himself. He loves people. .... Maybe it's not so bad to be Homer afterall. ;)

I think much of my practice in recent years has been about letting go of what made me angry in the past, and also some of what I thought would bring joy and wisdom into my life. It's not easy like focusing on others is. Truly practicing forces you to pontificate less, listen more, and see how the complexities of life are often never fully teased out. It all sounds really heavy and serious, but it need not be. (I'm still learning that lesson.)

With that said, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's actually more enjoyable overall to be awake to your life as it is. Not because things are easier necessarily, but but because you don't get mired in the muck so damned much, nor do you cling to the fleeting highs so hard. In fact, it's easier to embody those "good" qualities of Homer Simpson, and also, I'm seeing, to be the bumbler who just doesn't know what's going on.


Mumon said...

I have on my wall an (apparently old and famous) of Bodhidharma from Seoul that is a dead ringer for Homer Simpson with a beard.

Petteri Sulonen said...

This one's by Hakuin, I think, and I always thought he looked like Homer too. said...

Appreciating this, Nathan. Thank you!

Usually I picture myself as a little kid messing up and falling and wobbling around, but the Homer idea is a good one, too.

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

I follow you through an rss reader (btw, for a mac shrook happens to be a pretty good reader, no plug intended, just want to help fellow macbook pro users out there).
anyways, this is one of my more favorite things youve done.. very well rounded and hits lots of good points..

kevin said...

It feels like realizing you're the adult in any situation and you can't go back to acting like a kid. (And kids are the ones always complaining about it not being fair.)

Was it Suzuki Roshi that said "if you're thinking about beginning Zen practice, don't"?