Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Buddhist and the Cynic:
A Conversation About Fun

Buddhist: The principle behind it is this: "To enjoy your blessings exhausts your blessing; to endure your suffering, ends suffering."

Cynic: "What's a blessing?"

B: It's what we used to call fun. If you go live your life totally in your senses grabbing for pleasure and running from pain, you waste your energy, you hurt people through selfish behavior and in general, you waste your share of light. Did ever find any fun that lasted?

C: No, that's true. It always goes flat.

B: And the constant search for more and new fun is exactly what is meant by "exhausting your blessings". At a certain point, I just stopped beating a dead horse called "having a good time." The desires I was scrambling to satisfy have pushed me around long enough. Pushing for fun turns on you and makes you less free than if you just sat still, content to be right where you are. What do you get when the thrill is done? Heat, hassle, pain and dust--over and over again. Boy! I've had enough of that for this lifetime!

C: I hear you, I hear you. For a Buddhist you still can get pretty riled up!

B: When you see the truth, how can you ever again be satisfied with the false?

C: Well suppose I gave up good times, what do you do with yourself, stare at your navel? It won't ever be more popular than color TV, you know.

B: Remember what I said, "Act on faith in true principles." Action is what Buddhism stresses. Not a milk-toast belief, but do it yourself trial and error practice.

C: You practice having no fun?

B: You practice saying no to desire because the principle points you to something a little more solid than fun, and a lot less selfish. When the urge to run outside and buy a little fun rises up, the "bitter practice" cultivator chooses not to satisfy the urge. He has patience instead. His faith in the truth holds his energy in. He's cool and calm in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. When the thrill seeker comes dragging home, miserable and deflated after another flat round of being pushed around by his desires, the cultivator of virtue is just as happy as when he began. Maybe he's a bit more wise than before. He certainly hasn't lost any of his juice and spark.

C: Kinda makes thrill seeking seem pale and shallow by comparision.

B: That's the point. Once you know that there's more to life than being trapped in the cage of your desires then this whole new world of real happiness and pure freedom opens up for you. Sages with virtue have what is called "the power that cuts without harming".

C: By the way, what are bitter practices?

B: They are doing whatever you don't want to do. That's the bitterest. Say no to your ego. If you can do that all the time, everywhere, that's a bitter practice. The Buddha taught twelve beneficial "bitter" practices for cultivators of asceticism on the way to Buddhahood. Does that describe you? A future Buddha?

C: Maybe I am, but just dont know it?

B: Right. Hapy cultivation to you.