What’s going on where you are? I hope you are happy and healthy.
My 70th birthday is July 13. For the occasion, it seems appropriate to repost a slightly streamlined version of the piece that has been most hit on by readers in the Internet archives.
Some thank-yous are also in order.
To all my wonderful friends that have done everything from clicking on some backlinks and hitting a Like button to housing me, feeding me, and saving my life in so very many ways — I love and thank you. You are my family.
To my hundreds of revered teachers, I have to wonder how the hell I got so lucky as to run into y’all?! Simple gratitude won’t cover it, so I’ll try to do what I know is the favorite thing that any teacher likes to see a student do — practice and implement what you taught me.
To the greedy, mentally unbalanced, self-centered, cruel, and otherwise inhumane minority — thank you for helping me find those problems within myself so that I could do something about fixing them. Thank you for helping me find the patience to deal with malfunctions, whether they are internal or external. I hope for your speedy recovery. So do most of us. You have been such a dangerous pain in the ass to the planet and have tormented so very many of its (relatively) innocent inhabitants. Be a hero. Leave the door open a crack. Any and every thing that is still alive would be glad for the opportunity to help you get through that door. We’re rooting for you.
Thank you for reading, and for clicking on the backlinks.
Be well. Love, Tenzin
p.s. To the people that would give me a birthday present if we were together — Well, we are together, but your friendship has been gift enough. If you are really bent on giving something else, buy a copy of Fearless Puppy On American Road and give it to someone who needs it. You do know someone who needs it. Another option is to send a contribution to Miss Wangmo’s Ecopad project. Women’s health, rights, and empowerment are all stimulated by this project. I have and will continue to donate myself. Posts about this effort will be forthcoming soon — or better yet, please contact me personally for details.
p.p.s. If you find the reading at all enjoyable, please — it literally takes only seconds — tap one or more or all of the highlighted backlinks following this paragraph. This simple process is completely without risk, cost, or difficulty. All it does is bring you to the site that is highlighted. Each click is a big help in pushing Fearless Puppy up in the Goggle rankings. Whether you browse the sites or close the windows immediately, your help has been delivered. Thank you!
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all rolled into one.” John Ruskin
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR
Doctors told me I would die within six months. I decided that traveling around the world would be more fun than dancing with The Reaper. That was two and a half years ago.
Tough times are the constant companion of a seventy-year-old with arthritis, degenerative spinal disease, two hernias, and a liver cancer diagnosis — but so are blessings and miracles. This trip has so far brought me half way around the world from where I started. It is taking a very long time. Complications caused by the global Corona panic have already extended the original schedule by a year. It has been great fun and an adventurous experience full of many wonderful insights into different cultures. But it hasn’t taught me much about humanity that I didn’t already know. It has confirmed a lot that I already suspected.
People everywhere and anywhere are a lot more similar than different. Most try to be decent and happy, but all have different definitions of what “decent” and “happy” mean. There are a small number of seriously self-centered jackasses, but even they are also just hunting happiness in their own warped fashion.
Nice people can be awfully cruel at times. Cruel people are occasionally nice.
No one gets out alive but most folks act as if death only happens to other people. There is very little real consciousness of mortality going on.
Actually, there is precious little consciousness going on at all. Folks seem to do a lot of life habitually, without any deep awareness of their thoughts or actions. Very few realize how many choices they have. Many folks seem to be much busier strangling most of their opportunities with irrelevant and often inaccurate historical information rather than taking advantage of those opportunities. They don’t realize that a lot of what is called tradition turns out to be little more than peer pressure from dead people that lacks any valuable or even any real substance. They seem swept away by life, like a body trapped in the current of a wide river. They don’t realize that there are banks on both sides of any river that we can swim to, climb ashore on, and perhaps find any number of golden new possibilities waiting for us.
Most people have been hypnotized and fooled by the commercial, religious, and political nuances of their culture into believing that a remedy to their problems lies somewhere outside of themselves. These misleading nuances are more similar than different no matter what culture they travel through or what language they are presented in. They all aim at convincing the public that it has a real need for what those nuances are trying to sell. The products and ideas being hawked are always something external to the human ingenuity and intelligence that is likely harboring a better solution to any given problem than those nuances hold.
Many folks get trapped for an entire lifetime in these well-promoted and largely fruitless external pursuits of well-being. Few realize that all solutions are within. Many are aware that there is something wrong; that there is something out of place with life — but they just can’t figure out what that something is.
The historical Buddha is often misquoted as having said that “Life is suffering.” But the word “dukkha” that he used is more accurately translated as “dislocated” or “out of joint,” in the manner of a dislocated shoulder or collarbone. Many folks give lip service to the well-known fact that love is the answer. They mouth it often. They feel it a little more on Sundays and at Christmas. But most people have trouble putting it into consistent application during the rest of their week — and the rest of their living. They may know what the best stuff is but are disjointed, dislocated from it.
Pain will happen in life but suffering is often optional, or at least adjustable. Reconnecting with The Bigger Thing will obviously eliminate the dislocation from it. That re-established connection with something bigger can supersede and modify the previous connection to suffering. It doesn’t matter whether one tags the “Bigger Thing” as Jesus, Allah, Buddha, The Holy Alfalfa Sprout, The Great Pumpkin, The Field, The Force, Universal Consciousness, or Self. Correctly driving any good car you want to put fuel in will get you to the destination. Regardless of which teacher or system is used, the quality of attention paid by the student is a good deal more important than who the teacher is. Good teachers, mentors, exemplars, and deities can often be wonderful and in many cases essential catalysts. But a consciously awakened awareness needs to be intentionally tuned in to by the individual and is therefore, on several levels, self-consciousness.
More people every day are starting to realize that we are at a crucial point in history. Earth is in immediate crisis mode. Fine-line details necessary to reach whatever full “enlightenment” is are just not as important as what has to be done immediately to save our asses. Folks can figure out later that those tag systems were almost all symbolic and minimally literal. They can wait just a bit to come to grips with the fact that they have to do more internal work than they are doing in order to enjoy more humane qualities. They don’t have to immediately realize that supernatural is a state available to almost any human who takes the time and makes the effort to build his or her natural into something a little more super.
Right now, even paying serious attention to a truly positive “belief” can do nicely as a vehicle on the road to saving the environment immediately, improving life as soon as possible, and gaining an objectively sound wisdom in the future.
That wisdom in the future will include coming to terms with the fact that the word “belief” implies the lack of a real knowledge. It will include the courage to simply say, “I don’t know.” Admitting that we don’t know a lot of the things that we are currently making believe we do know will eliminate our attachment to unfounded, unrealistic stories. Believing in fairytales can foster a false sense of an actually nonexistent security. It disfigures objective reality and can allow serious problems and their solutions to both slip through the cracks.
Many of these stories were control devices designed to tame and civilize, or intimidate and rule, unruly populations. Others may well have been meant more symbolically and can still be brilliant metaphorical lessons. But history shows that over a period of centuries, a lot of material that was meant to be metaphorical got concretized, bent to individual purposes, and inaccurately translated. Take a look at what happens in three minutes to a message running through a chain of ten kids playing Telephone! Give that process a couple of dozen centuries, or even months, and the remaining verbal fragments may no longer have any resemblance to the actual meaning of the original message.
It gets even worse in some cases. For example, one has to wonder how much of the original thousand-plus year old message King James actually got into his bible translation. In addition to the time gap taking its toll on accuracy, the notions of a slave owning narcissistic monarch of the world’s biggest empire who had a sexual identity confusion accompanied by a bad attitude toward women as well as a royally egotistical sense of entitlement and superiority might not have been the best filter to run sacred truths of equanimity and compassion through.
The good part is that everybody wants to get love and life right, even if they are not consciously aware of how to do it. That desire may see very little practical application in the modern world at times, but an increasing number of people are realizing that they do want to be improved, happier, nicer versions of themselves. So many folks are searching. There is hope.
I see more people waking up to essential altruism and equanimity every day! Unfortunately, it is also true that every day another poor jackass is hypnotized from birth to think his little life is so important that yours doesn’t matter at all. These are the people that manufacture and fuel the separations that keep humanity from becoming itself. Sexual, national, religious, and ethnic differences are so often given mob value judgements and inappropriate importance in our physical world!
There is nothing in mundane existence wrong with the pleasures that these differences afford. There is not much wrong with the limited feeling of inclusion that these little clubs we belong to can give us — as long as it isn’t fostered at the expense and degradation of any other little club. But these preferences, likes and dislikes, accidents of birth, and so on have no such place of great importance in the world of consciousness, and it is insane to allow these meaningless variances to overpower the total inclusiveness that pure consciousness entails.
I have seen a lot of human inconsistency while traveling around the world. There doesn’t seem any sense in being an optimist or a pessimist. I’m a realist. It appears that we can go either way. Everything can work out just fine or humanity can become extinct in short order. Most folks are nice. Most people mean well, even if they don’t get it altogether done every day. Our happiness and even our continued existence depends on whether those nice folks muster the inspiration, power, and intelligence to make the few nastier people on the planet see reason. That’s going to take some doing because in order to help anyone else do that job efficiently, the nice folks will first have to do a version of it on themselves. The mechanics of The Bigger Thing dictate that things work the way Gandhi did.
A mother came to The Mahatma and asked him to get her sugar-addicted child off of sugar. Gandhi told her to come back in two weeks with the boy. She did. The Mahatma talked to the boy and the child stopped eating sugar from that day on. The mother asked the Mahatma, “Why did you have me wait two weeks?” Gandhi answered, “Two weeks ago, I was on sugar!”
The nice folks will also have to be careful to not become just like the nasty people. It happens sometimes. People have often killed tyrants only to then become tyrants themselves. Revolution, by dictionary definition, means you eventually end up back where you started from. Evolution, on the other hand, puts you somewhere else. “Somewhere else” would, in almost every nonphysical sense, be a good place for humanity to move to — especially that nastier fraction of humanity.
Perhaps the most important thing I have learned in the past seventy years is that We are even more important than Me.
Whether you are basically nice or nasty, like your sex with men or women, are born black/white/brown/whatever, and no matter where on Earth you live, we now have no functional choice but to realize and embody inclusion, generosity, and cooperation over competition and selfishness. Humanity’s hope for survival hinges on whether or not we can replace the greedy self-centered aspect in each of us with a more altruistically centered-in-self aspect. Now that we face the extinction of our species on so many fronts including environmental, warrior/political/nuclear, and a potentially fatal overpopulation and draining of resources, it is essential for each individual human to stop being the victim of our collective inconsistencies.
If finding our untapped courage and kindness ever allows us to live up to our potential, the Utopias of legend are certainly possible.
The collection of criminally selfish and willfully ignorant men that we hire by election to dictate our actions and take blame for our disasters cannot save us.
I wonder if we will.
About the Author
Doug Ten Rose has hitchhiked around America for 40 years, encountering Tibetan Lamas, Native American wise people, Senators, Governors, Junkies, Winos, Hookers, Rock stars, An all-lesbian rock band playing a concert for the deaf, The modern-day Robin Hood And a whole lot more…
These and many other amazing characters are described in Fearless Puppy on American Road.
“Ten” was also rescued and adopted by a temple full of Monks and Nuns in Southeast Asia. He stayed there for a half-year, although not studying Buddhism (certainly not in any conventional sense!).
Read more about that in his second offering: Reincarnation Through Common Sense.
The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Very entertaining TV/radio interviews with, and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
If you missed the Introduction to the new book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier, or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story — and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!