Notes on a Buddhist path

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Nibbana…

April 14, 2013 By | 4 Comments

“I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a friend in her first ever clown performance. It was a sweet, hilarious, unexpected evening. I laughed so hard my cheeks ached. On the ride home we caught on the comings and goings in our lives. After we’d been chatting for a bit she asked me what I had done lately for fun.

Fun. I don’t know if I was more puzzled by the word or the way I reacted to it, much like a ball hitting your chest and not knowing quite how to catch it. After all, I’d just had fun. Spending the evening watching my dear friend and her fellow baby clowns go through the brave, inquisitive uproarious improvisations of silent mirth was everything fun endeavors to be. So why did the question seem so alien to me?

As I’ve shared in some previous posts, my cravings for the sensual have lessened a bit of late. My yearnings these days tend toward evening meditation sits and listening to Dhamma talks than my old scavenger hunts for fun in the outside world. Visits to my local DVD store often leave me frustrated in not finding something that suits my new inner critic. I still enjoy movies, but my playlist has narrowed dramatically. Gone are the days when hapless violence and moral ineptitude on film entertained me. Even digital tigers can send me into an emotional spiral these days.

I’ve found since returning from my mediation retreat in March that my taste in music has also altered its course. For years I’ve been a devoted lover of jazz. My CD collection swells with the pulses of Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, Miles Davis and Billy Holiday. Of late, though, they tend to sit their sets out and my classical friends have dusted off their instruments for some private evening concerts. I’ve even discovered that Gregorian chants are the perfect accompaniment to a long, hot bath.

Nekkhamma, renunciation, has been snipping away at the loose threads of my worldly life, not out of any stalwart attempts of my doing, but as a ripening, I suppose, from the seeds I have been planting in my practice. Dance has left me with two left feet, alcohol leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and shopping seems to have closed my account. The  societal bastions of fun have apparently shut their doors to me, and yet I’m most content. My fun these days doesn’t swing to formidable expectation and death defying heights, but rather charts a more level playing field for enjoyment. I find it in blissful walks along the ocean, in sharing tea and kind words with friends, in deep meditation sits and Buddhist texts, in puppies and giddy spring flowers, and baby clowns.

A funny thing happened on the way to Nibbana. Life, as I knew it, started to fall away. What could be more fun than that?

For a New Beginning

By John O’Donohue

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

From To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue, published by Doubleday, 1988.

Image credit:

Sri Lanka Buddhist Statue via Wikimedia Commons

Comments

  1. Thank you for the “fun” read, Tess. As with all things, it’s in the eye of the beholder, yes?

    • Absolutely. The only guarantee is that life is always changing, and so is the view of it all. Wishing you a fabulously fun day! ox

  2. “Life … start[s] to fall away”
    “Awaken your spirit to adventure”

    Go together like sunshine and a summer’s breeze!

    “Searching is half the fun. Life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.”
    Jimmy Buffett

    (P.S. Gregorian Chants Rock!)

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