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"The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes."

--Andre Gide

I have Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor on the table in front of me that I have been reading, while seated facing the hall at the entrance/exit to Boise Towne Square. I'm thinking of adding it to my collection of books. I'm thinking of reading it next instead of Being And Time by Martin Heidegger. Then again, I'm thinking of putting it back on the shelf and heading to Barnes & Noble to buy Being And Time, as I had intended. The book Buddhism Without Beliefs has an appealing title. I don't want another religion, but what has been taught about the Buddha or rather what has been taught by him without the corruption of the religious institutions that have made a franchise of the Buddha and developed their own doctrines about what he taught.

I'm not sure that reading this book will lead me to the truth of things. The point, I think, is that there is no truth of things. There is our experience. There are our interpretations and how these interpretations affect the quality of our experience. Buying this book will not free me from Monday. I still need to eat. My cat needs to eat, and I will feed her. To do that, I will need money, and the money will come from employment. I don't see money as coming from thin air. That is my interpretation of experience.

Maybe I should put this book aside and forget about it. I have enough materials on enlightenment already in the form of my Sedona Method Recordings and the Release technique. Do I need to crowd my bookshelves with yet another book? Is it wise to spend the $13.00 plus tax that this book will cost? Will I become further enlightened by reading this book, reflecting on it, and putting it into practice? I bought no liquor this evening. I cannot make it back to Nampa before the liquor store closes, and I don't know where there is a liquor store close by. I don't want any liquor. What if I did not buy this book? What if I walked away and forgot about it? Will my life be any poorer because of it?

How long will I feel better, after I have read some from this book? There are many distractions. I won't go to church tomorrow. I will not attend the LDS church. I don't want to be a Mormon.

I don't know whether or not to buy Buddhism Without Beliefs. I don't know what's in in for me. I don't know where it will go. I don't know whether there is anywhere to go. The book looks good. I know that I will, for the most part, enjoy reading it. I know that it's better to read good books than not to read them. I know that this is a good book. Reading it will not get me a beautiful woman, a better job, a home in San Diego with an ocean view, or more money. The book does not promise any of those things. Suppose I never get any of those things. Is my life a failure? What makes it so that it's a failure? I could attend the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Boise tomorrow. I can see how that could be a good use of my time. I can see staying home with the cat or making another visit to Boise Towne Square. I can stay home with the cat and read from the books I already have. And I can watch a good movie on Netflix.

The book on Buddhism is about anguish. I can use a good book on anguish. I feel anguished much of the time. I feel anguished about my job, the exhaustion I feel from working the twelve hours shifts, and whether my life amounts to anything. What's it worth to be me, to go about my daily business, to live in my messy apartment. I could clean my apartment tomorrow. That would be something. I don't have to clean it all. I can do some cleaning. I like the idea of the here and now. I would like to be free of the past.

This book Buddhism Without Beliefs does not promise enlightenment, but it is more than a treatise about enlightenment. I don't want to be a slave to thoughts about the past, to cravings for excess amounts of food and alcohol. I don't want to be addicted to anger, rage, and hatred or fear. I want to be free. I don't want to succumb to mindless habit. Good books are good. Good books are always good.

Reading Being And Time by Heidegger could make me a clever fellow. I don't think Heidegger was interested in making me a more clever person. I don't think he was interested in representing himself as clever. I think he was after insight into the nature of human reality. Heidegger, like the Buddha, was aiming at an authentic existence. Did he succeed? Did the Buddha succeed? A mall seems like the last place one could ever get any glimpse into enlightenment. A mall is the antithesis of enlightenment. The mall is about commercialism, appearances, distractions, the superficial surface of things, the ephemeral and the fleeting, the unreflective, the appeal to impulses to satisfy immediate desires that have nothing to do with living an authentic existence. Yet, here I am in the midst of it all. I sought out the mall. I wanted to be here, to escape from the monotony of my apartment, to see beautiful women dressed in fashionable clothes. I wanted to be here in the cathedral of consumerism.

Who is to say that this book on Buddhism is not another fleeting desire? Today I want it to satisfy some desire that will be gone tomorrow, or tomorrow, I will doubt the wisdom of my choice to purchase this book. If I don't buy the book, my decision not to purchase it will gnaw at me. Why didn't I buy the book? Why did I lack the courage and the conviction to buy it? What's so hot about saving the $13.00 plus tax that is the cost of the book? What do I gain by not buying the book? What if I had never known of the existence of this book? I would not be troubled by any of these thoughts in this case. The book has not brought me a sense of serenity. Knowing of the book and having read from it have increased my level of anxiety. Would I have not been better off had I not known of this book's existence. Should I have not stayed out of this bookstore? Would I have not been better off by just walking through the mall, enjoying the sight of the beautiful ladies? My life is now more troubled by the existence of this book. How can I expect to be less troubled if I buy it? I will be troubled, now, whether I buy the book or I don't buy it. There is no escaping the trouble that this book has now brought into my life. But am I not making too much of things? No. No. No. There is no making too much of things. My problem is that I have not made enough of things. It is the reason I have wasted so much time putting up with dead end jobs.

Carl Norman

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Tags: Buddhism, authenticity, decision, enlighenment

Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by Carl Norman on May 30, 2010 at 12:55am
This post is an entry from my journal that I wrote this evening. I have edited it only slightly. Hence, the rough writing style.

I did purchase Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor, and I feel good about my decision.

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