Monday, August 24, 2015

on 'commuter bus' buddhism

I was riding the bus to work the other day, doing the usual activities: watching the world go by, looking at the other commuters, wondering what the day would bring.  I looked at a youngish fellow passenger up ahead, sitting facing the bus's centre aisle.  He was reading a big thick book.  I love to read and am always curious what other people are reading, also a favorite activity of mine while riding mass transit.  But often the person reading is positioned in such a way that I can't quite make out the title of the book.  I try not to take it personal…

This young man however was reading 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.  He was about two-thirds through the book, which is a bit of an accomplishment, it's over 700 pages long.  The title was plane as day, which made me happy.  And the fact that he was reading this particular book made me very happy.  It's an amazing book, so rich of imagination.  Reading him is like watching a Noh play, a very chimerical form of Japanese theatre.  Murakami has this amazing ability to create dreamlike scenarios and then draw you into the dream.

When I saw what the bus rider was reading, I felt a connection with him.  There was a shared experience which led me to believe a shared perspective or meaning, an interrelationship .  I realized that I can feel these interrelationships often on the bus or wherever I might find myself, whether its a book or how person looks or the seat they go for or that we're all sweating in the heat and hoping to get home.

Interrelationship!  In Buddhism we are all interrelated.  We all share something with each other.  We all touch and are touched by each other.  And our every thought, word and action creates and rides upon a soundless yet sometimes very noisy vehicle of influence upon others.  And them upon us.

The Tibetan Buddhists say that we have been reborn so many times that every person we meet has been our mother at some point in the past.  I have to admit that there are some folks I would rather not think of as my mom, but…  Like that one politician (Oh jeez!  Not HIM!).  That one neighbour.  (Yikes! Not HER!)  Like that person on the bus who just sat in my favorite spot.  (Mep!)

From the Buddhist perspective we are all drawn into a piece of fiction, a dream that is even more seductive and compelling that the artistry of Murakami.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to fully awaken from this dream. How would we act if each of us truly understood and gave ourselves to a way of being, based on the concept of our interrelationship with everyone and everything riding on this beautiful bluegreen orb of mass transit making it's route around the sun.