Monday, January 31, 2011

On Being a Good Buddhist

Or not.

Several years ago, the Matron went to the very fine Kripalu Center to study yoga and, well, get all Zen and down -- as in calm down, be in touch, centered and all those goodies.

She sat through several lovely dharma talks. She stood on her head (really!), flexed muscles and meditated. There was nothing but loving-kindness and nonviolence, twenty-four hours a day for four days. Considering she then had a 4 and 2 year old at home, this was a much needed respite, even with a roommate, a lovely woman with a good decade on the Matron, a much better head of hair and a sense of humor.

One of the dharma talks that touched her most was on nonviolence: try not to step on ants, people. The value of life --- from a bug to a plant to a human being -- was emphasized. It was inspirational. It was the kind of talk that makes one leave the room infused with the desire --and drive -- to be a better human being.

That speech and inspiration came rather late one evening after a long day of downward dogs and deep breathing. Friends, she's here to tell you that deep breathing is more work than the phrase would imply. So she was tired, spent, at the end of the evening. She and her roommate discussed their desires to be better people for their time spent at the retreat. They shared a couple of stories, dreams, and retired.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

That would be the sound of the fly in their small room, zipping around with zeal from the roommate's face to the Matron's, in between the nun-like beds and then back to settle in for a potential feast or new home on someone's hair.

Still, silence except for the fly prevailed as the roommate and the Matron both continued their deep breathing, nonviolence, loving kindness stance. For about 15 minutes.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

Roommate: "Mary?"

Matron: "Yes?"

Roommate: "Let's kill that sucker."

And so, after a day of reflecting on all things harmonious with the world and aligning themselves to be better people, the Matron and her roommate found themselves magazines and rolled up newspapers and spent half an hour stalking down the fly . . . climbing on chairs, hoisting themselves up walls, tumbling over beds.

Until they killed it.

But at least they made it 15 minutes.


Rebekah said...

Ha! I've been contemplating returning to Buddhism in a more active (as opposed to sitting and thinking pretty Buddhist-like thoughts) way this entire past weekend. Your post pretty much made my day, and reminded me why I'm not quite there yet.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Your best post ever.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Sometimes you have to consider things more deeply than what is just on the surface. All life is precious, yes. But fire ants bite/sting (whatever!) and flies land on poop. I have no problem with killing either species.

Cindy in Walla Walla said...

Reminded me when my daughter was a wee one. Maybe 3 years old? We were outside and she intentionally stepped on an ant. After a lecture from me about how we don't kill bugs (outside ...ahem). I tried to further inflict guilt by pointing out a nearby ant and said "oh look, she's looking for her friend."

My daughter? She got down on her belly and shouted in a rather matter of fact manner to the lonely ant "better find a new friend."

Sometimes common sense has to prevail.

MidLyfeMama said...

I always have this conversation with the bugs and the occaisional mouse that I encounter in my house, that if they had only chosen to stay outside, we would not be at this impass. Sometimes I manage to free a spider, since they are so useful, but really, they just need to STAY OUTSIDE. Oooommmmm.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: most insects don't survive in high altitudes. This is why you never see a Tibetan monk swatting at bugs. IF they had to, well, cripes, they'd totally have exclusions for killing mosquitoes and flies.

Anonymous said...

We had a Japanese foreign exchange student living with us once. She wouldn't kill a fly she found in the house; insisted on capturing it and taking it outside. I'm with Green Girl in Wisconsin: if the Tibetan monks had to live with flies and mosquitoes, they would have exemptions for them.

MJ said...

I am kind towards ladybugs & dragonflies (which eat other bugs) The others are open season FT. Namaste!