Don’t Take Yourself So F*cking Seriously.

Via on Jul 19, 2012

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To laugh at oneself is enlightenment.

Chiang Rai, Thailand.

How different do I feel from this morning. How does our interior experience change and flow from moment to moment. I felt so stuck, lonely and unaccepting of what was this morning and it has all dissolved. Things that were experienced as fears and obstacles this morning have now changed into answers and facts. What was a a big problem before was not a problem anymore a couple of hours later.

Sometimes I get tired of the ego in general and my own ego specifically. But sometimes it is funny too. And the joy comes often after I have blown something out of proportion first and having worked through it. Then I gain a new perspective and it looks and feels rather light, amusing and endearing.

Elephant baby 300x224 Don’t take yourself so fucking seriouslyThis morning I was feeling very disappointed about the lack of integrity that I experienced on an elephant excursion that was marketed as an authentic and integral experience. It was not an intentional evil but it was the scent of commercial glib that rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t like it when something is disguised, when the message is fuzzy or unclear, when I am fooled, betrayed or taken advantage of. When I look at the previous sentence now I can quite clearly see that these are the same things that happened to me as a child. When I am in the middle of it I can’t understand why I can’t let go of the situation and I can’t make the connection. But now, with a bit of hindsight, I can see the charade played by grown-ups and my inability to voice my indignation for lacking the language skills.

When I was a child I could be so angry that I literally would suffocate myself because I would stop breathing. My mom recalls a moment where she slapped me to make me breathe again. When I am put on the back of the elephant and asked to play along with the illusion that I am part of an elite audience that gets to learn how to ride an elephant in the traditional way while the elephant is clearly just walking the same route he walks every day and is not responding to any of the cues (because he knows better) I feel so not taken seriously that it makes me want to explode. That I seem to be alone in this makes it confusing. It is funny how similar these two examples are and also funny to see how little I moved on in the last 36 years.

Somewhere along the path I picked up a lesson that works well for me: “Don’t take yourself so fucking seriously.” Or, as Suzuki roshi put it: “To laugh at oneself is Enlightenment.” So yeah, we carry a lot of crap around with us from times long ago and yeah it sucks when we get caught up in it. But it is is just the ego, it is just our stuff. It is not the final reality and it is not permanent. And right now I find the image of an angry 40 years old child on top of an elephant very funny. And he might still have work to do on his anger issues, getting of the elephant and not playing along the charade was a good decision.

There was more. I am in Chiang Rai now and I am getting closer to Phra Kru Bah, the warrior-monk I want to meet. Because I have seen the documentary about him I had the feeling there would be all jungle here. As you might know I am terrible at preparing myself so I thought I was throwing myself in the jungle today. When I bought a ticket to this city and entered a nice and clean air-conditioned bus filled with nice and clean Thai I realized that the place might not be as remote as I imagined it. (I am laughing again as I type this). For the first time it dawned upon me that even Chiang Rai has hotels and I would not be sleeping on the floor. So I took my iPhone and Googled myself a hostel in 5 minutes, where I am now. The guy at reception knows Phra Kru Bah by reputation. His temple is 45 km from here. He will write a note for me in Thai as indeed nobody will speak English at The Golden Horse Temple. Until now the language barrier was a fear and an obstacle but now it became a fact. So what if the monks don’t speak English? I will just be with them for a while and absorb.

Tomorrow I will go to The Golden Horse Temple, armed with a meditation cushion and a big bottle of insect repellent. Life is good.

Photos of temple and baby elephant courtesy of Atalwin Pilon

* This essay was featured on The Good Men Project.

About The Good Men Project

The Good Men Project is a cerebral, new media alternative to glossy men’s magazines. Founded by Tom Matlack in 2009, it's become a social movement: an ongoing in-depth discussion asking “what does it mean to be a good man in these modern times?” Proceeds from The Good Men Foundation are used to support organizations that help at-risk boys.

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2 Responses to “Don’t Take Yourself So F*cking Seriously.”

  1. [...] down with responsibility, stretched in too many directions, effin’ stressed out. We sometimes take ourselves quite seriously. Maybe we’ve built walls—layers—intending to protect ourselves. But the walls [...]

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