Monday, September 16, 2013

Scene for meditation

Scene: Westernized Buddhists Meditation Centre. A room full of meditators sit behind a closed door. A woman approaches the door, reads a pamphlet and checks through window in the door to see a Caucasian, western monk like figure seated cross legged at the front of the room. The meditators face the monk also cross legged.
Woman: (opening door, shyly)
Is this the beginners’ meditation? My counsellor has sent me here for generalized anxiety disorder.
Ah, wonderful! A newcomer! Yes, welcome. Please take a seat on the cushion and we will get started. (Addressing whole room) Good evening everyone and welcome to the Westernized Buddhists Meditation, my name is Guy and I’ll be leading you through the 3 stages of mindfulness meditation. What we practice here is a process of receptivity. Receptivity to a subtler state of mind to allow equanimity and peace of mind to arise. We cultivate an environment of equanimity despite what may arise within us because of outside disturbances. We don’t react to the outside disturbances, and allow equanimity to arise of its own accord so that we may grow longer and longer periods of inner peace irrespective of external forces around us. We don’t force it, we just remain aware, allowing it to arise. And, in order for it to arise, we use the breath.
In the first stage of mindfulness meditation, we place the count after the breath comes in. That is, breathe in, breathe out count 1. Breathe in, breathe out, count 2. So on and so on in cycles of 10. I will let you know when we move on to the second and third stages by the gentle sound of this gun. (Fires it into the air over his head: BANG, BANG, BANG!).
Jesus Christ!
Monk: (Disparagingly, but forgiving of a new comer. Wildly gesticulating with gun.)
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa... Please refrain from talking during the meditation.
Woman: (Startled, hands on head, eyes wild)
Why do you have a gun?
Monk: (Still holding gun, staring at woman, firing it into air BANG!)
Please, a gentle reminder to members both old and new, refrain from speaking (BANG!), moving (BANG!), and keep your eyes closed (BANG!) so as not to disturb the other meditators or yourself. (Loudly empties chamber as bullet cases fall on floor)
Woman: (shaking)
Oh, God help me.
Monk: (addresses fellow monk, smiling)
Rimshaw, more ammunition. We have a guest.
(Loudly reloads. Meditates for two minutes, then BANG! BANG! BANG!)
Woman: (Shaking with fear, shrieks).
In the second stage of mindfulness meditation, we place the count before the breath comes in. That is, count 1 breathe in, breathe out. Count 2 breathe in, breathe out. So on, and so on in cycles of 10 until I gently transition us into a still more subtle state of awareness by calmly squeezing this trigger (BANG!)
(Meditates for a few moments. Fires gun: BANG! BANG!)
Woman: (Shrieking loudly)
What is going on here?
Silence! (BANG!) In the third stage of mindfulness meditation, we let go of the counting completely. Focusing only on the breath. The radiant, life giving, peaceful breath.
Woman: Breathing heavily. Someone sneaks up on her during a few moments of meditation. Smacks a pie in her face.
And finally, following the third stage of meditation, a holy pie is placed in the face of the new comer. Just as The Buddha did for his Disciples, and the Disciples of the Buddha did for their Disciples…so on and so forth from teacher to student, teacher to student, as one candle alights the wick of another candle, until that candle can go out into the world and…
Woman: (Runs out with pie on her face).
Enlighten the others.
The End

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Canberra Turns 100

Canberra turns 100
There is a little known geographical anomaly about Canberra. By some quirk, cartographers, when constructing the boundaries of Canberra, made a mistake marking the map. Classically, it is placed within the confines of the Australian Capital Territory. But there is mounting evidence to suggest that Canberra is not part of the ACT at all. In actuality, it is one of the outer dimensions of Hell.
I had been warned. When floating the idea of relocating to Canberra, the good people of Melbourne suggested otherwise. Often times their sentences incorporated strong adjectives, appropriate only for adults. Common sense suggested I only cautiously pass through this vacuous wasteland. But to consider a move there? I must be on the spectrum.
Yet when common sense says no, I say, “Maybe. “
And then I say, “Yes!” This is followed by, “I’m sorry,” and pleading, “ I should have known better.” Given enough time to simmer in Canberra, it turns into, “Please, dear God, help me.”
But God does not come to Canberra. No. Politicians, bureaucrats, public servants, and prostitutes come to Canberra.
Canberra is an adult themed AntiDisneyland, the unhappiest place on Earth. Sure, there are queues and ropes guiding you through the place, but instead of a ride at the end of a line, you find accountants. And, while I can not quantify this with any scientific studies, in my opinion, they were particularly ugly accountants.
To describe the quality of life in this town, people move here because of work. Or, reframed, the best and most alluring thing about Canberra is work.
I uncovered this fact during conversation with the locals. When meeting people, I often times ran this experiment.
“What’s your favourite thing about Canberra?”
“Well, I love my job. And the location is great! Two hours from the beach, two hours from the mountains, three hours from Sydney!”
“So, your favourite part about Canberra is work, and leaving Canberra?”
The experiment often ended badly.
Canberra’s people are mighty defensive about their little slice of Hades. A common phrase uttered is, “I’m from Canberra, born and bred.”
Why anyone would ever be proud of this sad fact boggles my mind. I heard the phrase so often that at times I would prod them.
“You’re probably going to stay here, huh?”
“So, when you die, you’ll be Canberra: Born and bred and dead.”
On the subject of death, this year, Canberra is 100 years old and is undoubtedly suffering from cognitive decline. In the preceding months up to her centenary, people around the geriatric patient wavered back and forth as to whether or not she were up to a celebration. One idea had been to outsource all celebrations to an actual city, like Sydney. There were pros and cons, however, in the end it was decided to give it a go internally. Canberra gathered all of its 100-year-old, dementia bound resources, and presented its embarrassingly simple party to the world. Like a country town talent show, every sub mediocre performer dusted off their fiddle or put on their Irish dancing shoes and was given stage time. There was even a pathetic little comedy festival memorable for…well, not such great quality, but certainly an impressive quantity of dick and fart jokes. The more bold performers added sound effects into the microphone, incorporating the armpit. And another misguided “comedian” was arrested after assuming a visual display would be a necessary addition to his reinterpretation of a classic, albeit tired, dick joke. These simple performers are now local heroes.
Like a geriatric vegetable, dripping and drooling from the mouth, Canberra is yet another example as to why euthanasia might be a viable and more humane solution than natural causes of death. In any case, we can only pray that it is soon put to rest, put out of its misery and dead before losing all dignity and shamefully embarrassing Australia.
Matthew Bulman
PS. Move the Capitol to a real city, Australia. Otherwise, History will mock you.