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On the merits of apathy

color illustration of the BuddhaJanuary 29, 2015: A nonny complained in the “Venting” thread: “I have to write 500 words on my feelings on the Dhammapada. I don't have 500 words of feelings on the Dhammapada. I have no feelings on it.”

Another nonny stepped up with the following:

On the merits of apathy, by Nonnie McAnon.

I do not have feelings on the Dhammapada.

It has taken me a while to realise this. After all, such a seminal work in human history, that has touched so many people's hearts and minds, should evoke some manner of feelings, I felt. Surely, I must have a reaction. If I did not feel a reaction at first, it may be a sign that I was overwhelmed by this collection of wisdom. If all that we are is the result of what we have thought, surely, if I have no thoughts on the subject, I am not (although, this may have been a different philosopher).

But as I read further into the wisdom of the Buddha, I realised that no inner feelings emerged. There was no Inner Goddess to whisper into my ear, to excite me about this saying; object to that saying; and then, truly to find Enlightenment.

My next reaction was fear. If I did not have feelings for the Dhammapada, do I have feelings for anything at all? Who dwells in Dhamma’s happy in this birth and the next. If I cannot dwell in Dhamma, what does this mean of my happiness, or my life?

After fear, of course, comes denial. No. It was not me who was wrong; it was the Dhammapada. Ask not how you can understand the Dhammapada, ask how can the Dhammapada understand you. Truly, I am a special snowflake; the Dhammapada, those sayings who speak to all, do not speak to me. I Am Different. That in itself caused fear for three or four days. Humans are communal; what am I if I am not a part of a community? For the rest of the week, I lived in existential crisis, which, as it were, destroyed my attempts at denial and brought me straight into anger. And anger rang a bell. Does the Dhammapada not say, Angry speech is painful, blows for blows will touch thee?

And them, realisation came. True Understanding. I was not a special snowflake. The truth is indeed in the Dhammapada. Let each man direct himself first to what is proper, then let him teach others; thus a wise man will not suffer. I cannot let this assignment direct me towards what is proper; I must do so myself. I am not yet ready to accept the wisdom of the Dhammapada.

At last, there is Harmony.

on-the-merits-of-apathy.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/02 00:53 by RedDeliciousApples