(Tim’s Party at Elaine’s house from Left to Right: Julie, me, Tim and Elaine.)
Tim’s celebration last night was a success.The party had several different purposes.
The main reason we were all gathered was to congratulate Tim on receiving the “Living the Dream” award, presented to him by Greenfield Community College. It’s kind of an enormous honor and I know there is no one more worthy to receive it than him.
Another reason, was just to show support for all of his years of dedicated hard work to the pagoda and the walks.
And the last reason was so celebrate the collective birthdays of Beth, TowbeeShonin and Blair who are all Pisces who all have birthdays sometime soon.
It was a lovely night for so many reasons, but one of the highlights for me came near the end of the evening. I sat down with Sonia and Althea and the three of us had a great conversation about everything from Lil Wayne to Fundamentalism.
This morning at breakfast I brought up the book that I was reading last night, Lust for Enlightenment: Buddhism and Sex. Usually breakfast conversation is light and easy but this morning was different. The moment I started talking the room grew silent. I had everyone’s full attention.
This book starts by talking about the birth and early years of Gautama, the man who grew to be Buddha. It was really interesting to me because it was a story I had never heard before. I guess I have always heard the censored version, where a boy is quite pampered and finally he sees sickness and death outside of his luxurious palace walls and comes to the realization that someday he too will fall ill and die. He gets depressed and leaves the kingdom and his worldly riches to find truth and meaning.
Apparently though, that is only half of the story. In an attempt to make him so happy with palace life that he never wants to leave, his father basically has an enormous harem stalking him at all times. And I don’t mean to say that every night he is having sex with one or two women. I mean to say that there is not a moment where he is not smelling perfume and incense, listening to beautiful instruments being played, touching the most comfortable things in the world. And these women in his harem are professionals in the lovemaking department. Like they had PhDs in the Kama Sutra and being sexy. And he would have sex with around nine of them at once. Of course I mean no offense to the Buddha,and I’m sure that this is a hard story for some people to accept, but his life literally could not have gotten any better. His food was the freshest, his music was the sweetest, his life was the most decadent.
And after he sees the old man and the sick man and the dead man his ‘mother’ tells these women to pursue him even more. To never let him have a moment of rest in which he can realize his life may not be complete. So one night, after a particularly stimulating evening he wakes up in the middle of the night. Everyone is asleep, and he looks around him. These women are drunk and snoring and drooling. Some of them are contorted into strange positions, some are naked, but they all look kind of hideous. And he realizes that a woman’s beauty is fleeting. And he realizes that this is not the life he wants.
My response to this chapter was one of clarity. It suddenly became clear to me why someone would say that celibacy is the way to enlightenment. If you spend half of your life experiencing physical pleasure in literally every way imaginable (literally every.way.imaginable.) it’s not something you would really crave so much anymore.
On the back cover of this book was a quote:
If one’s thoughts toward the Dharma
Were of the same intensity as those toward love,
One would become a Buddha,
In this very body, in this very life.
– The Sixth Dalai Lama
Anyway I found all of this very interesting, and relayed my intrigue to the monks. Our conversation was fantastic, but suddenly I am feeling like this isn’t the moment to share that conversation. Another time.
Check out the book though, I can’t wait to finish reading it.