Listen up, Serious Das, you daydreaming fool!
It is time to let go, give it up, wake up!
What happened to your youthful zeal, idealism and high aspirations?
Tangled up with others and their ideas, have you forgotten
what you once knew?
Just because your mind is like a popcorn machine
doesn’t mean you have to butter up yourself and others!
It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
There’re no waves without wind, but don’t become a blowhard.
We are all going to die, but are we going to truly live?
Wake up! There’s no time to waste.
Shape up, shape your life
by shaping yourself.
Be truthful, gentle, fearless, as Mahatma Gandhi said.
Count your blessings, not your problems.
Life is fragile; handle with prayer.
Intellectual judgments have the allure of a lovely mirage.
Desire for comfort is like a greedy ghost lodged at your hearth.
All who are born, die—even the powerful, wealthy, holy and famous.
Greatness and celebrity are like dog shit wrapped in brocade.
Rank is like a little bird perched atop a tree;
leaders with selfish motives are like food mixed with poison.
To be a spiritual friend doesn’t mean to assume a dignified appearance;
it means to be a guardian and protector to others.
You can’t help anyone if you’re afraid of death.
Death shadows all of life.
All those who are gathered are separated,
and all constructions, no matter how grand,
eventually come to ruin.
How can you talk of peace, compassion and love
when inside you is a loaded gun?
The tongue weighs almost nothing, but few can hold it.
Better just close your mouth and keep silent,
keep harmony in the sangha,
bow your head, take a breath,
meditate, chant, pray.
You old salt and Dharma dog; you jaded practitioner
who has done it all and seen it all—Start again!
Forbidden fruit creates many needless jams.
Think of the great yogis and masters of old,
and one’s own exemplary spiritual teachers and benefactors; remember
the extent of their courage and selflessness.
The best way to find yourself
is to lose yourself in the service of others, as Gandhi said.
Serious Das, you old Sixties character, hippie, hobo, dropout, naysayer,
furry freak brother and youthful tie-dye wannabe,
psychedelic relic, spiritual materialist, guru chaser and experience collector
infected with boomeritis:
Pull up your socks, pull up your pants, pull up your sagging belly,
trim your neuroses with the sharp sword of discriminating wisdom—
at least until you can recognize it all as the immaculate Neurotikaya.
Pull up your pop-up New and Better Lotus Tools & Options Menu, and
Get a life! Get real! Connect deeply.
Be a mensch.
When it comes to self-inquiry and the big issue of identity:
try to find out who’s on first.
Don’t be like a dog, running after every thrown stick and stone;
be like a lion, and jump right on the thrower.
Pogo says that we shouldn’t shoot the arrow at the bull’s eye
but rather keep the entire target wrapped around
the arrow as it flies, as in Zen archery.
Here is View, Meditation, Action and Result, inseparably
wrapped up in one,
like Buddha placed in the palm of one’s hand.
Don’t think there’s some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow path,
forgetting that the rainbow’s a circle and there is no end.
The totality is the veritable pot of gold:
it’s all gold, all rainbow.
Every step of the way to heaven is heaven, as the saints and sages say.
With inner realization, that famous nirvana,
nowhere in particular,
is mysteriously everywhere, right here and now:
Thank god for the Dharma.
Too many activities and obligations ensnare you, as ’tis said;
but to you I say:
why not do something for charity, volunteer services,
community work, or for local children, the environment and animals?
Saving and cherishing life will save yours, in the end,
enliven you now, and ennoble the world.
Put down your victim stories, quietism, helplessness and depression masked
and pick up your sick beds, meditation cushions, yoga mats, backjacks
There’s a great big world out there, just beyond the wall.
Don’t be a wild practitioner
whose poetic words seem sweet
and whose heart smells like a fart!
How can you talk about compassion
with a moustache dripping with red gravy
from rabbits and lamb?
Where is your lovingkindness and compassion when you find it easier to love
in the abstract
than to love anyone, one on one?
Don’t be a couch potato who has simply traded in the couch
to become a zafu potato.
Try to do yoga and physical exercise, get outside,
and relate to pets and all of nature
as pure miracle.
Work on loosening and reconditioning your strongest attachments and fixations;
don’t just switch it to higher, more subtle forms of addictive behavior,
whatever the rationale.
Collecting tantric empowerments and initiations, teachers and teachings
like campaign buttons and medals,
like the grizzled Veterans of Foreign Retreats;
all you’ll get is a flattop from so many ritual blessing objects
placed on your crown chakra.
Better to be a Big Brother or a Big Sister and mentor a needy child.
Be a true friend, a light, an Elder, a pillar of the community.
The more you do for others, the better for yourself;
the more you give, the more you gain, as everyone says.
Don’t put down other religions, this is not the time for it.
Religion should be a uniting force, not a divisive one;
the solution, rather than one more problem.
Shooting off your mouth when you’re ill informed
only shoots you in the foot and erodes the path.
Don’t be like those eagerly smiling New Age dilettantes
whose minds are slippery like bars of wet soap,
squeezed from one new idea and trip to another,
starting to dig new wells every time you hear from them
without ever getting down to finding water or hitting pay dirt.
If you want to change your life
and want different results, you must do things differently
as well as do different things.
Don’t preach like a sheep
and live like a wolf,
or your own good heart
will be slowly, painfully devoured.
There’s a whole hierarchy above you,
so don’t be proud;
you could lose your balance and fall from your high wire
in an instant.
Unless you tame your mind with the sublime Dharma,
how can you possibly benefit others?
Learn to be truthful, decorous, gentle, and control your emotions.
You master of rote recitation, what will you say
when you no longer have breath or a mouth?
You breath-worshipper and mantra-counter;
what will you concentrate upon
after breathing your last?
Do you think it’ll be easy to remain calm and clear
at the vital moment of death,
when you can barely manage do so now?
What do you really need?
Are we lacking anything?
Practice is perfect.
Consider your limitless intention.
Your own heart-mind, your true, original, essential nature,
is the true Buddha;
when are you going to realize it?
Buddha cannot see Buddha
I cannot see I.
The eye cannot see itself;
the mind cannot know itself,
or so they say:
Mirrors are revolutionaries.
One penetrating glimpse and you’re no longer a mask.
Death is necessary for evolution.
According to string theory, the universe is
two nine-sided slabs of crystal clear space
facing each other.
and make yourself at home
in America the Buddhafull.
Because I love the dharma and my teachers above all things; because my crazy-wise dharma brother Wes requested a song of sacred folly; because of the dark times we live in; and because the autumn full moon was rising in this election year of 2004—Lama Kunzang Tenzin (L. S. Das) wrote this ditty, hoping to exhort himself by recalling, acknowledging and confessing his own faults while also trying to be witty and aspiring to be wise. May it be auspicious.