The Cherry On Top Of The Fruitcake
Hello from Kathmandu! I hope you are happy and healthy.
It may not surprise you to learn that I am considered just a bit unusual or even strange in certain parts of the world, and very strange or even bizarre in some other places. Thailand is one of those places.
This week’s eight hundred or so words are from the book Reincarnation Through Common Sense, and is about a half-year spent simultaneously in heaven and hell. I was living in a small Buddhist monastery/nunnery in extremely rural southern Thailand. The hosts that rescued and cared for me accounted for most of the heaven part. As is true for so many folks, the thoughts bouncing around in my skull accounted for much of the hell part.
What my robed hosts thought to be the most fun during this experience was that I already knew how to laugh in hell.
They taught me how to get out.
Thanks for reading and clicking. Be well. Love, Tenzin
“The most revolutionary act that a person in this country can perform is to be happy.” Patch Adams
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The Cherry on Top of the Fruitcake
Many tourists act a little wilder while on vacation in a foreign country than they do at home. This is even more pronounced in Thailand where there are so very many opportunities to do the wild-and-crazy. The locals around here are usually very tolerant of tourist behavior, but they talk about you. This is true anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Thailand, Paris, or at the North Pole. If you are from out of town and a little different, at least a few of the locals are going to bust your chops. Gossip of this type happens whether you are wild and crazy or not.
There may also be some finger pointing and giggling. Most of the finger pointing is just good-natured amazement, especially in a place like rural Southeast Asia where the locals find a zoom lens camera about as miraculous as we would find a working intergalactic starship with transporter beam. Mild shock about foreign customs or bafflement with advanced technologies is harmless. But those are not the topics here. The topic here is what to do when something that is actually malicious comes your way. This topic is headlined by the concept of (figuratively, of course) “staying in your own canoe.” It includes letting bad stuff that flies in one of your ears fly as quickly out the other. Remembering these two notions can be strong support beams for an unshakable perseverance in the face of adversity, insult, or even danger.
In spite of heavy competition from my fellow travelers for the position as cherry on top of the international fruitcake, I have become known in southern Thailand as “THE Crazy Alien.” Most of my fellow non-locals who get any special attention from the natives are simply drunk, loud, and usually between 20 and 40 years old. The locals expect this. But when they see an American person who is a bit older, they suppose that he is like the Americans they see on TV. So when they look at me, they see something that falls very far out of their frame of reference. Here is a person they cannot explain. He is not at all normal.
He is living in a Buddhist Temple on a foreign continent without studying Buddhism. He cannot communicate in or understand the native language. No one within miles speaks English. He has no money at all, has no home waiting for him anywhere and no way to get there if he did. And he is writing a book about a culture and religion that he is slowly learning very little about. When the book is finished, he has plans to get back to America somehow and (with no business connections or related experience at all) sell novice writing for lots of money. He will then donate all the money to build combination educational/spiritual resorts that are entertaining destinations for guests. The main purpose of these resorts (even more so than benefitting seekers and guests) will be to perpetually return huge profits that will fund an increase in the number of Wisdom Teachers in the world. The purpose of that increase is to help, to as great an extent as possible, alleviate suffering in human beings and in all other living creatures affected by humans. His long-term goal is to build enough of these resorts to acquire enough profits to make it financially possible to increase the total number of Wisdom Professionals in the world by one percent.
Logic dictates that the odds of his success may be roughly the same as the odds of one person winning a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot prize twice in the same week.
The Head Teacher and most respected member of this rural Thai community has given all the compassion of Mother Teresa to the foreign lunatic, including hospitality and privileges usually afforded only to people wearing robes. The American cherry-on-top-of-the-fruitcake person works on the writing in his isolated cabin with the intensity and introspection of a lone monk, taking occasional breaks to hang out in silence with the real monks and nuns. He writes with pens found on the street, on napkins and scrap paper scavenged from the nearest Internet cafe twenty miles away. He stops only once or twice a month in order to completely fall off the other end of life’s pendulum by acquiring massive doses of expense-free alcohol, ganja, and lodging from friends that manage fancy tourist resorts on the beaches near that Internet cafe.
Even the folks living and working in the resort towns are not used to seeing behavior like this — not even from the most certifiably loony and highly medicated tourists. I must seem even more bizarre to those of my neighbors who have never been out of this two hundred resident hamlet adjoining the Temple grounds, and are unfamiliar with those tourists.
It is very lucky for me that Thai folks respect crazy more than Americans do.
Sometimes I wonder exactly what they think of me — but not often.
Every moment spent thinking about what other people are thinking about me is a moment I’m not thinking about what I actually need to be thinking about. It would surely suck to be on my deathbed watching someone else’s perceptions of my life flashing before my eyes.
I don’t have the time to worry and wonder if other people think I’m nuts. I have books to write and Wisdom Teachers to sponsor.
But I do have a sense of logic. It is easy to see how what I’m doing might look strange to others. It is even easy to understand why some folks might think me a bonafide lunatic.
Maybe I am one.
But if you are reading this, maybe I’m not.
Many thanks to the friends of Fearless Puppy at the Pema Boutique Hotel for their wonderful help and support.
About the Author
Doug “Ten” Rose may be the biggest smartass as well as one of the most entertaining survivors of the hitchhiking adventurers that used to cover America’s highways. He is the author of the books Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense, has survived heroin addiction and death, and is a graduate of over a hundred thousand miles of travel without ever driving a car, owning a phone, or having a bank account.
Ten Rose and his work are a vibrant part of the present and future as well as an essential remnant of a vanishing breed.
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The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. 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!