Friday, December 17, 2010

Faux Compassion and Kindness v. "Experimental" Compassion and Kindness

When you've fallen on the highway and you're lying in the rain,

and they ask you how you're doing of course you'll say you can't complain --

If you're squeezed for information, that's when you've got to play it dumb:

You just say you're out there waiting for the miracle, for the miracle to come.
                                                                              -L. Cohen

Nathan discusses "the Artificial Buddhist Personality."  Maybe folks who read me might not guess it, but in real life, in my work life, my language is considerably saltier than I put on in this blog. I could tell you a joke about a penguin, for example... This is a public forum and the internet persona never dies, you know.

But I don't think I witnessed faux humility and graciousness when I saw Leonard Cohen last week.  I'm often not in the mood for mercy, compassion and forgiveness, let alone humility and graciousness, but luckily, I sometimes remember that it's a good idea to try that out as a gambit.  Not because it's a George Costanza gambit that doing the opposite of one's natural inclination leads to a more successful outcome, but because I've sat long enough to figure out that there's a lot of junk going on in my head that isn't conducive to a harmonious outcome if I go with my default inclination.   When I can put my mind in that mode, it's an experiment, just as when I have to step outside of my inclination to hide under a rock and be hard with those who work for me. 

Regarding the latter situation, as well as pretty much anything else work related, I have phrased it to my manager in terms of acting on behalf of my employer; he has at times been incredulous of this - that's his nature, to be incredulous.  He has at times thought such statements insincere.   But truth be told, I have worked long enough to figure out that not a damn thing gets done unless you get the imaginary Greek chorus of upper management, home office management, colleagues, customers and shareholders to go along with you - then you can get the actual management to go along with you. And so even the tiniest thing one does in the course of one's work day can be thought to be observed by this imaginary Greek chorus.  It's not being insincere; it is, as best as I can make out today, acting in harmony with the Daodeching ( ).    I used to be bothered by my manager's assertion, but then I figured out he doesn't understand that, and it's part of my job to encourage him to understand why I act the way I do.  So that's not really a problem.

But I really don't see myself as having that much time these days for false fronts on the compassion front.  It is true that people who are in a stage of bliss from all the meditation at first might assume such a persona, but after a while it gets boring, just as it is when you're impossibly rich and you're on your way to an orgy at 6 in the morning and you run out of gas.   There's no point in saying you're waiting for the miracle; you just want the damned gas.  Hopefully you can get it without descending too far away from the better inclinations of our species.

It's just about time for zazen.  May all beings not get bored.

No comments: