Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This world is a burning house

I spent most of this morning’s train ride reading the first section of the Chicago Tribune and as much as I could stand of the Sun-Times.

Nothing to report, really.

Plenty of jejune 666 references. Too much celebrity gossip.

And one interesting editorial by Jesse Jackson.
He’s right. I don't like him much, but he's right.

The uber-rich don’t need another tax break.

And while our legislators are fiddling around with constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning, Rome is burning.
I’ve been learning about Buddha lately.

Twice my dear friend Nelson has kindly and accidentally on purpose left the book behind. Seemed to be a bit of a hint that I ought to spend some time with it.

One line in particular has stayed with me since reading it early Sunday morning: This world is a burning house.

I’m not going to explain the parable, you can read it yourself here.
But it’s helping me understand something I’ve struggled with my whole life: compassion.

Stupid people irritate me.

A fairly common trait I’m sure.

But in me it is combined with a dark, ugly tendency to dismiss people I deem unworthy of my time or attention.

Buddha says that stupid people are the ones who need help more than anyone because they can’t help the circumstances under which they were born. That enlightenment is open to them just as much as anyone.
“He can’t even read!” I once said, condemning a man (in my mind) the lowest possible way.

As much as I despised the ignorance and cruelty of that particular person, looking back, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t his fault that he had never learned how to read.

And looking back, it was my ignorance and cruelty that was far more despicable.
This world is a burning house. Indeed.

But I’m trying like hell to find the way out.
I am listening to: Pearl Jam – World Wide Suicide
I am reading: The Teaching of Buddha
And I am: Quiet