***Trigger warning: Marijuana use
By Johnathon Lee
Bowls always wind up empty.
Savoring each hit, or taking a whole quad for granted, still winds up empty either way. Then the search is on. The search should be on before then. It should be on already, but bank accounts wind up empty too. It’s a dismal alchemy. Money turning into weed, weed into smoke, smoke to high, high to happy, to sober, to unhappy and seeking.
There’s no solution. There are particular solutions—I could stop smoking—but no general cures. Weed is just one means to high. We’re all trying to fly. We all wanna stay there. Maybe you use food. Other people use knowledge, sex, religion or TV. It’s all a means to high-dom. It all leaves us sober and seeking.
People make promises. They say, “Try my -ism today and get one -ism free!” They say that, “Love is the answer,” or that everything is gonna be alright. It’s not. Everything ends, everyone fights it, and we’re all lost. We struggle after it. We leap and crawl. It’s always just out of reach. Maybe lasting pleasure comes from knowing this. Deep breath. We’re all trying to fly. Our wings just keep burning.
The only practical thing to hope for is more pleasure and less pain, and it’s good to remember how little control we have. Hope and fear are connected. We’re afraid that we’ll never have the thing that we hope to have. We’re afraid that we won’t experience pleasure. This fear is painful. Letting go helps with that. We’re not in control. The body is. This body and cosmos are whole.
When you eat a donut, it’s the Cosmos eating a donut. Cosmos eating Cosmos. This helps, doesn’t it? We’re not just lost and helpless little humans, we’re also expressions of the whole. We are truly, from a physical standpoint, one. Only consciousness divides us. If there’s something worthwhile to hope for, it’s that we can tap into a Cosmic vibe and let it flow.
Buddha said this ends, that we can escape the pain-pleasure dichotomy. Some people might be able to—I’m bipolar and autistic. I can barely focus on a single breath. I can’t follow directions, and most people give me sensory overload. This doesn’t end for me—not even with a Cosmic-kinda mind. Not even with the Bodhi buzz.
What can end is my silly belief that it can end. I’m going to keep searching, bouncing between trust and doubt, pleasure and pain, but that’s because I’m a silly goose. Maybe you’ll have better luck. If not, that’s fine. If you don’t believe in karma and rebirth then you don’t really need a permanent fix anyway. There’s no reason to believe in karma or future lives. Death is probably parinirvana for us all.
So, since God is dead, maybe we can all relax a little and share a bowl? Maybe we can let that little voice of realism into our heads that whispers the sobering words, “All things must pass.” Or, as Bodhidharma put it, “Vast emptiness, nothing holy.” There’s no magic word that’s going to make you feel good forever. There’s no spell or herb that’s gonna save your loved ones lives. There’s nothing to bargain with. There’s just Cosmos, and it only cares as much as we do as a whole.
That’s where your power is. If you care, then that means Cosmos cares. If a lot of people care, then Cosmos cares even more. That’s not going to prevent it from throwing an asteroid into us, but it can make our stay in the universe a bit more pleasant. When all is said and done, isn’t that the best we can do?
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