By Lee Glazier
So, I was enjoying an herbal meditation session the other day, and something awesome happened: I fell in love.
Not with a person or any tangible thing, but I literally fell in love, like diving into the Pacific. Just then, my cat ventured into the room. I was so thrilled to see her. I picked her up and hugged her close. For a few breaths, she was my universe.
Even though I’m a Dudeist, I don’t imbibe very often. Herbal meditation is almost, ya know, sacred to me. So when I do do it, I… really do it—it’s an occasion. It’s interesting what sort of moods and insights pop up. The drag is that these realizations and feelings are much harder to come by naturally, meaning sober, but that’s when they really count. Insight enjoyed while high depends on the high, so it’s artificial in a way—just a taste of what’s possible. Being stoned can be inspiring, but it isn’t enlightenment. At best, it’s highlightenment, bringing shit to light for further contemplation. The insights that really move us happen when we’re sober, when we have to put in some kind of initial effort to dig them out of the mind.
So, yeah, there was a little sadness during that experience too. I thought, “I could feel this way all the time, to some extent. I could love, just love. I could love unconditionally and without fear and without selfishness. Why don’t I just, ya know, do that?”
I don’t “just do that,” because that kinda change would literally kill me. Well, not literally, but, ya know, it would destroy all the shittiness that I identify with as, “Me,” which is a huge chunk of my identity. It would buff out my hard edges, unbutton my lip and force me to, ugh, hug people and stuff. I’d spend less time alone spacing out in front of the TV and more time with other people spacing out in front of the TV. I’d also take better care of myself; not for myself, but so that those who love me wouldn’t suffer my untimely demise.
But I don’t want to do any of that; I don’t wanna die, man. I don’t want the illusion to end. I’m comfortable here, wrapped up cozy in my bad habits and scripted responses to stimuli. It’s strange, isn’t it? How the things we find familiar can be the things that cause us the most misery.
There’s a bleak truth in Buddhism about my situation. To tie ourselves to the world is to tie ourselves to rot. That’s anicca, impermanence: rot. Everything’s rotting, decaying, a second-by-second slow burn into oblivion. And we love it, fuckin’ love it, man. We can’t get enough of our suffering. The Buddha had enough, so did Lao-Tzu. They said, “Fuck this shit, I’m out,” because they couldn’t ignore it anymore. Know what I mean? They couldn’t ignore the rot, the decay that creeps into everything. It becomes more and more evident as I get older.
Even the sun will go out someday.
So why not love? Why not let go and let myself feel that warm, selfless compassion and kindness flowing through me? What’s the risk, really? That I might get hurt? Big whoop, I’m going to die someday, Dude. And if I stick to the stats, it’ll probably be a slow, painful, withering death in a hospital bed. How dare I let fear determine my course in life, how dare I let my own insecurities dictate who I am and how I act. That’s no way to live. It’s a waste. Hell, it’s practically an atrocity.
I’ve been given this precious and unlikely gift we call sentience, and I’m going to blow it on fear, frustration, and doubt? I might as well be an embryo, all comfortable and unconscious in the familiar womb. I wonder if that’s what we all really want: to never have been born. I mean, we never want to feel anything strange or unpleasant; we demand instant gratification as if we’re still tethered to our umbilicial cords, and we’re addicted to security. It’s like we live and die as fetuses, never quite reaching the birth canal.
It isn’t surprising that unconditional, universal love is terrifying. Love is a chaotic, destructive force. It turns our lives upside down, rearranges the furniture and it wages war against the voice inside our heads. You know that voice: the one that tells you that you aren’t good enough; that you’re fat, stupid and ugly. The one that tells you that you’re a piece of shit and that you deserve to be lonely.
Freud called that little gremlin the superego. He believed that it’s an internalization of our parents, teachers, and our culture. I’m not sure what kind of parents he had, but mine are great, and I still have that little voice. Compassion and loving-kindness annihilate the superego, or at least enlighten it.
By eliminating all the crazed edifices we’ve built, love makes room for creation. What it creates is life—a genuine life, a lived life. I know all of this, but I still resist it. Knowing isn’t enough, knowing is never enough. I have to actually do it. But I don’t know how. How do I let love pour from my heart like steam from a teapot?
I had breakfast at a country restaurant this morning after work. I’ve met the hostess a few times and think she’s super cute. I have zero flirtation skills and no intelligence when it comes to picking up on even overt, “I’m interested in you,” signals. Seriously, I’m a total idiot when it comes to things like that. I don’t usually realize that there was an open window for romance until hours or days after it’s closed.
Today, in a calm and mindful mood, ya know, abiding, I asked, “How do I talk to her without tripping over my words like the socially awkward teen I used to be?” The little Dudeha in me replied, “Don’t think about it like that, Dude. Just be a good person, just be warm and kind like I know you are. That’s how you’ll free yourself from suffering. Coincidentally, that’s also the trick to confidently talking with women. Just be a good man… man.”
So, maybe that’s it? Maybe that’s a way to bring that unconditional love into my life. Love makes us kind, but sometimes the effect doesn’t follow the cause. Sometimes the effect precedes the cause (Far out, man). Sometimes cats walk backwards, the head following the tail. Sometimes, if you smile for a minute, you start to feel happy.
So, there are certain situations in life when doing can come before being. So maybe one way to be a loving person is to do the things loving people do. Then, after awhile, the brain catches up with the body. Thoughts, words, and actions sync up and, without noticing, there’s only love, and life is finally, truly, lived.
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast from Golden, Colorado. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?” Feel free to check out his blog, Cluelessly Falling Down A Spiral Staircase (Musings & Misadventures of an Ordained Dudeist). Also check out his Facebook page.
Editor: Dana Gornall