Please Stop Whistling!

I wrote this a couple of years ago. I thought it a good segue into my first ever blog.

Please stop whistling. You suck at it. Period. There are only a handful of people on this planet that can justify their whistling, and you are certainly not one of them. I can't sing. I'm not sitting in the doctor's office, singing along to the Sound of Music, am I? You don't hear me walking around in the mall, belting a badly out of tune rendition of Brown Eyed Girl on my trumpet, do you? Why do you feel that you can? Just because it is whistling, I suppose. The whistle should be treated the same as any other musical instrument. It should be practiced. Perfected. Especially if you are going to invade my auditory senses with your incomprehensible "musical" crap. You're probably the same guy that whines and complains about other peoples cell phone ring tones, and how unbelievably annoying they are. Guess what. Your whistling is worse. At least the ring tones are in tune. At least they have rhythm. At least you can shut them off, or hit the mute button when in the doctor's office. Not you. Your just keep going. I wish someone would force feed you about a dozen Saltines.

There are times I still feel the same. Actually, there are a lot of times when I feel that stongly about something. This is the biggest issue I am dealing with as a new Zen Buddhist. Learning to deal with people's stupidity, selfishness, lack of awareness, etc. There are endless people that seem so completely out of tune with society that they fail at even the simplist of tasks; flushing a toilet, using a turn signal, realizing that I can't go any faster than the eight cars in front of me and getting off my ass once they notice that...I could go on forever. How does one get beyond all of that? How do you "just accept things as they are"? Zazen. That's how.

I am still new to Buddhism. I've done a ton of reading over the last year or so, and, to no one's surprise, there is a recurring theme in it all. Zazen. Sit. Seems quite simple, doesn't it? HA! You wish! OK, really. How hard can it be to sit for a while? To make the time to sit. To sit on a Zafu cushion and stare at a wall for a while. You wouldn't think it, but it can be the hardest thing in the world. I'm learning this the hard way.

The worst time for me is when I am driving. I'm pretty sure that the place for most people to be their least tolerant is in the car. I am no exception. My biggest beef as of late are social drivers. You know the ones. You catch up to them on the interstate as if they were standing still, then suddenly you can't pass them, even though your cruise control is set. Once you do (if you do), they ride your ass as if you were the one going slow. So you pull over to let them pass. In a mile or two, when they finally realize how fast they're really going, they slow back down to where they were before. Of course, you catch up and the game begins anew. There are also the social drivers that just have to slow down to approximately .254742 mph faster than the car they are trying to pass. Technically they're going faster than the car on their right, but not really. I try to tell myself that "they're just stupid" or "they don't realize" or something, but that doesn't usually work. I am getting much better than I used to be, when I would honk and cuss and flip off just about anyone that didn't drive like I thought they should. Now I typically just speed around the idiot and go about my listening to whatever on the radio. There are still times that my middle finger makes an appearance out the top of my sunroof or plastered to my window, but they are getting to be fewer and fewer. It's a start.

I am slowly getting into the habit of sitting on a daily basis. Let me repeat...SLOWLY. The funny thing is, when I sit, even for only a couple of days in a row, I feel better. Calmer. The day I don't sit, however, I quickly go back to my "old ways". It's really quite frustrating, to be honest. Knowing what that calmness, that serenity of accepting about anything feels like, and then ignoring it in order to "teach that guy a lesson" or whatever, makes me feel like shit. I end up getting mad at myself over it. Either that, or I get so caught up in the hatred of the moment that I don't even think about my Zenness for a while. By the way...I don't know if Zenness is a word. I made it up to describe the whole package of what I think, feel, etc. when it comes to being a Zen Buddhist. It's after a bad experience that I will quickly find a quiet spot to practice Zazen.

I am trying to find that quiet spot more and more often, not because of bad experiences, but because I need to. There is a need in me to find the calmness that is attained during Zazen. During that time, I am Zazen. I am my breath. I am the air. It's very satisfying to "just sit". I can come close to the half-lotus position, but the full lotus is out of the question. It doesn't matter though. I don't think how my legs are has anything to do with my mind, or especially with keeping my mind clear...with letting thoughts come and go, but not letting them overtake my practice. As long as I can keep my posture right, I think I'll be OK in my old "indian style". The zafu certainly helps though. The first several times I sat without one...YIKES!! I couldn't sit for five minutes without my legs or feet falling asleep. I'm making my own zafu in the coming days. I hope it doesn't fall apart! I'm not the strongest when it comes to sewing. That may actually end up a blog in itself!

I have a percussion student that has been reading my Zen books after I finish them. He is young, and is dealing with all of the crap that goes along with being a 16 year old high school kid these days. He too, is a beginner. I'm not sure how far he will go in his studies, as there are about a million other things on his mind besides a new religion, but he tries. He reads, he asks questions about the stuff he doesn't get, and he even sits on occasion. I like that. He even came up to me last night to shake my hand and say "thanks". Thanks for introducing him to Zen. I was focused on something else at the time, and it didn't really hit me until I was thinking about it later that night. How awesome is it that because of my giving him a few books, and because of me trying to maintain my Zenness in a rehearsal setting, he thought enough of that to thank me. "If you wanna change the world, it starts with one person." Let the changes begin!

I've heard that "someone else has already said it better, so use them, and end on a high note". Sounds like a good idea. I'd like to end each of my blogs with a quote from a Buddhist Master. Today I'll end with Shantideva, from his "Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life". Perhaps if I would take the following into account when driving or whatever, I'd be much better off...and much more relaxed!

"If it were the very nature of a childish person to inflict harm on others, it would be no more reasonable to get angry with him than it would be to resent the fire for burning us. On the other hand, if that were a temporary fault and that person were otherwise good-natured, it would be just as unreasonable to get angry with him as it would be to resent space for filling with smoke."