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Boredom Is the Nothingness of Buddhism
Life can be
boring at times. People of all ages often express that they are bored because
they have nothing to do; however, the problems that could be tackled are
endless in number, and the world is in desperate need for solutions. Yet, some people
work to avoid boredom at all costs; they judge boredom to be useless. In fact,
we can be bored out of our minds. When we are out of our minds, sort of speak,
we allow life to unfold without manipulation or any predetermined direction.
The universe unfolds as it should.When we are on vacation, for instance, life unfolds so differently than it does throughout the year. Several things strike me. One is the contrast between city and country life.It is easy to get caught up with the hectic pace of life and endless traffic tie-ups in the asphalt jungle. Now compare it to the slow pace and magnificent views on the shore of a lake, with nothing on your mind but the beauty before you.The morning or afternoon dip in the shimmering waters offers respite from the heat and humidity. Slowly the tensions of city living give way to a welcomed quietness where daily routines are forgotten and time is measured, not by the hands on a clock, but by the contentment that fills your body, mind and spirit.
When you have nothing to do, you might as well be experiencing the nothingness longed for in Buddhism. Transcendental meditation requires that you repeat a mantra over and over leading the meditator to many moments of mindlessness. With time mindlessness, a presence of awe is replaced. Contemplation ensues before the magnitude and magnificence of all that exists.
Boredom can be exciting when we allow for a rather spontaneous prioritizing of what gives meaning to our lives. We arrive at a hierarchy of values. Concerns are reduced to a number of essential concerns. Life erupts in ways we had almost forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The lapping of water on the shore of a lake can become all that exists and the gentle breeze can mesmerize us to the point that we can experience the presence of God. God shall not come to you in a hurricane or a tornado but in the words of Isaiah “in a gentle breeze.”
At Clear Lake in Ontario, a storm very similar to a tornado caused a transformer to malfunction and the pole on which it was anchored was shattered. A large tree fell on a car and a guest house causing extensive damage. The transformer was to the right of the property where I was staying and the tree fell to the left. We remained untouched. Was the sparing of the cottage and property an act of Providence? If we were to say, yes, then why was the neighbour’s property hit so hard? What kind of a God would make such choices? God would be a lottery God, drawing the names of those to be destroyed and those to be saved. Untenable!
Yet, a redefinition of Providence as the affirmation of our humanity became evident when everyone was concerned about the neighbour’s property, especially since he was on the verge of selling his home and property.
Then a providential moment!The workers at Hydro Ontario were hard at work replacing the transformer when one member of my family realized that charging iPhones in the car killed his battery.No one had booster cables.He approached the workers and inquired if any one of them had booster cables. No. He continued, “Let me see if anyone down the line has any.” A co-worker said, “I’ll go and get them.”
Upon returning, he used his truck to boost the car’s battery.He was thanked and offered twenty dollars for his trouble.He refused and said he was paid well and it wasn’t necessary.The human potential to do what is right is another way to feel the gentle breeze, that presence of God in a helping hand, a smile, in all the ways God’s Spirit makes itself present.It is time just ‘to be’.
We are at our best when we remind ourselves we are human be-ings and we stop being when we lose ourselves in busy-doing everything under the sun. Vanity is Vanities.The awe we feel ensues from taking time we could call thinking time, reflective time, or meditation.
Boredom is exciting when it allows us to think before we act, to act with the assurance to do what we have to do, and when we listen in silence to our inner spiritual selves it allows boredom to be transformed into meditation.A true spirit comes from the depths of our being. Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.
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