12/30/20: The Temptations of Buddha Rick — Mission Accomplished! #poetry

12/30/20: The Temptations of Buddha Rick — Mission Accomplished! #poetry

This is a poem

It’s not a religious text

I am not a Buddhist

I am not an expert regarding Buddhism

The Buddha rejected a life of asceticism and a life as a prince

Stephen Sondheim was upset after his play “Merrily We Roll Along” got bad reviews

“They will accept you as a commercial success or accept you as a starving artist, but not both.”

Buddha Sondheim

That resonates with me

I’m Buddha Rick

I was penniless and daring once

Some people celebrated me

but they never gave me a job

I had substantial professional jobs

Paid well for my take on things

up to a point

But then obedience was required

Penniless Rick did great work on stage that morphed into mysticism

I travelled through eternity onstage blind to latitude and longitude the audience or time

Undiluted reality is insanity

I extinguished my ego

and merged with the All

but left my shabby unkempt body behind

wild eyed

I was Icarus touching the sun in comedy clubs

Some cheered sincerely

Some egged me on

Some were confused

Some were concerned

Some condemned me

Some beat me physically

Most just left

I’m proud that I took things so far

It was heroic

There is a time for extremes

And this is not a bad memory

But …

It was

Not good

Mysticism is not good

If you get stuck in it

and thankfully I didn’t get stuck in it

I got on the cross but the crucifixion was aborted

All spirit and no nature

Spirit needs to fasten itself to the stuff of the earth

if you want to live

sanely

And I wanted to live

sanely

Penniless Rick needed money and a place

The journey continued

Substantial professional Rick got those things

but an attempt was made to use me as a tool

not long after I got them

Lobby state legislators to oppress poor people

More fines for truancy and poverty

Shame them as lazy!

Defend the death penalty

Cheat widows and orphans out of their insurance money

Punish a mentally ill lawyer at trial

Her illness treated as a crime

Persecute a poor elderly lawyer with a heart condition for missing a deadline

Teach ethics with a racial bias

Teach improvisation in a superficial way

Genuflect to power and money

Honor those things and the people who embody those things

and I’d get my piece of the pie

To my great pride and satisfaction

I did none of those things

I got fired a lot

but I did some good too

and I grew

I didn’t want to be a prince

and my asceticism ended long ago

The Buddha thought that the temptation of social duty

included opinion

an attempt to change the world to one’s vision

I often regretted that I didn’t fight more to change the corrupt institutions who paid me

and that I served honorably

and disappointed when I wouldn’t participate in their dishonor

but I was following my Buddha impulse

Conflict doesn’t change the world

No one successfully forces alterations to the nature of men and things

What changes the world is changing oneself

or more precisely being conscious of the changes of oneself

I am at an interesting point now

I don’t need a job to avoid the asceticism that I rejected years ago

The temptation of social duty disappears from my consciousness

I am not shamed any more by any inadequacy of money or fame or power or social status

Those are the duties of the society that I exist in

When I had to work to avoid asceticism

I did a good job I believe

of being self-sufficient and expressing my spirit

My court appearances, my classes, my blog in that period and my performances

were poems

outward expressions of my soul

not diminished by how out of place they were

inspiring and upsetting others

naturally

not from my intention

But there was always a limitation

in my consciousness, and by extension my opportunity

That past limitation doesn’t bother me

The world works through process

I was not derelict for not having full enlightenment

But since those not-so-long-ago days

I’ve learned that there is a solid and reliable abundance to creation

God supports and cares for artists

That is not something I read on a Hallmark card

I know it from experience

All needs are provided for those who serve God’s will

It has happened to me so many times

God sends me money and chances and helpers and love

He wants me to do my work

and keep body and soul together

I can live apart from the ascetic and the princes

The temptations of the Buddha were fear, desire and social duty

Fear and desire were always just passing states for me

Sensations more than existential difficulties

Social duty was the tough one

Society told me to be a powerful prince or a starving artist

I reject each temptation

In my next act

I will create

apart from the approval and disapproval of audiences

the desire for unnecessary personal suffering

and the bullying of bosses

and competitive peer groups.

There’s a reason that I write in installments

What’s next?

Write what you don’t know.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

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