I was on my way home the other day and stopped by these horses that were very busy frolicking in the mud. I tried to get them to come close enough for a photo but they ignored me.
Then I remembered how I used to get my dog’s attention by asking her if she wanted to go for a ride in the car. So I stood by the fence and said: Wanna go for a ride? Nothing. Then I said: Wanna go for a ride in the car?
The white horse slowly walked over and looked at me like I was crazy. Then he turned to his friend and said: This guy ain’t from around here is he Bo? And Bo said: No Jack, he’s probably a New Yorker.
I figured it must have been my accent. Fuhgeddaboudit.
“With regards to the way of death, if you are prepared to die at any time, you will be able to meet your release from life with equanimity. As calamities are usually not as bad as anticipated beforehand, it is foolhardy to feel anxiety about tribulations not yet endured.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
The Pali word dukkha means suffering and stress and unsatisfactoriness, but it also includes all the minor annoyances of life as well. It’s basically getting what one does not want and not getting what one does want.
I had a chance to see and experience dukkha in several ways this afternoon. There was a hot air balloon preparing to launch and I stopped to take some photos. I could see this was going to take quite a while so I had to leave to find a bathroom and come back.
I watched the crew struggle to drive the van with all the equipment onto the grass but it was too soft and muddy, and they got stuck several times. I spoke to the pilot who was determined to launch no matter what so he could get his certificate, though he was obviously frustrated.
About 45 minutes later they got the balloon hooked up to the basket and set up the fan to inflate it. I felt sorry for this guy as he pulled and pulled but the fan wouldn’t start. It turned out it was out of gas so they filled it up and were back in action.
His crew seemed to have no experience and had to have everything explained to them at least twice, but eventually the balloon was up, up and away and I trudged back through the mud to my car.
Because of the direction the van ended up parking I didn’t have the beautiful late afternoon light, but I tried to get an image I could use that would capture the essence of dukkha.
Novelist Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha said: “I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” Yes.