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Buddhism is a dance
performed by clowns
in the center ring of life.
It is the seemingly graceless interplay
of bozos with big red noses
attempting to simultaneously perform
several ballets at once,
all while juggling
eggs and bowling balls and chainsaws
and displaying their prowess
at three different artforms:
Practice, Etiquette and Ethics.

Practice is the discipline,
the offstage training and rehearsal
that makes the dance possible.
Just as dancers tone their bodies in private
to achieve new levels of performance in public,
you sit in meditation before each show
to achieve an awareness of more subtle levels,
not only of the mind itself,
but of the other two arts.

Etiquette is how well you dance with others.
It is a measure of how much
of this expanded awareness
you can bring to your fellow dancers.
Trying to anticipate their needs,
their movements in space, always careful
to step on as few toes as possible.
Which, lemme tell you, is not always easy
when you're all a buncha bozos
trying to dance in clown shoes.

Ethics is the internal aspect of the dance,
the thing that keeps it all new, show after show.
It's a vow you make to yourself,
that you will never dance
a step you know to be wrong,
even if the libretto and the choreography
demand it of you,
even if Practice and Etiquette
demand it of you.

But the coolest part of this dance,
that which makes it worthwhile,
is not the fun of putting on
costumes and makeup and fake noses
and prancing around in an enormous circus tent.
It's the fact that there is an audience,
and each one of them
has a big red nose,
just like yours,
and each one of them
is wearing clown shoes,
just like yours,
and each one of them
is laughing,
just like you,
and each one of them
is you,
laughing at yourself
as you dance
with yourself
for the amusement
of your Self.



Practice, in Buddhist circles,
is often a euphemism for meditation.
And meditation is pretty cool, actually.

To the outside world,
it looks like all you do is sit,
doing nothing.
But it's a very different experience
when you practice it yourself.
You find that all you do is sit,
doing even less.

Meditation is magic.
It is the apprehension of self,
first as many,
then as One,
and finally as Oneness.

In the practice of meditation,
we initially focus our attention
on one thing
(a meditation object, a sound, a chakra)
so intently that other things
(thoughts, sensations)
fall away,
leaving only the one thing
in our attention.

Oddly enough,
through this practice
of intense focus,
we eventually reach
a state of no thought
in which even the one thing
is transcended,
leaving only attention,
aware of itself,
pure, unfocused,

Finally, and this is where the magic comes in,
even the awareness of Self falls away,
leaving only



Proper Buddhist Etiquette
is undocumented software.
There is no User's Guide
you can turn to for the proper way
to behave in a party situation.
But fortunately,
the user interface is so intuitive
that you don't need no steenkin' manuals.
The more you meditate,
the less your everyday attention
is fixated on yourself.
And the more your everyday attention
is free from its identification
with self and its importance,
the more of it is free
to focus on others
every day.
Etiquette is just another term
for losing your self importance.
When you arrive at the party, and are no longer
the most important person in the room,
etiquette is a breeze.
Proper Buddhist Etiquette, release 2.0
User-friendly to the max.


Ethics has gotten a bad rap lately.
It is thought of as constraining, limiting,
a Big Book o' Rules
that others expect us
to follow.
I don't see it that way.
I see a sense of personal ethics
as the ultimate freedom
from others,
and from following, period.
Unlike etiquette,
there is documentation for ethics.
All you have to do to read it
is close your eyes.
When you open them,
you will know what is right
and what is wrong.
Do the right thing.



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