January 22, 2010

Yiddish Gurus! ~ Ricardo das Neves

I often think that if instead of Hebrew, Israel had chosen Yiddish as its official language, the whole Middle East might be a different place now.

I mean, with a language that uses words like schmaltz, klutz, meshuggah, schlep, schnozz and tukhus, who can take themselves seriously? Here’s a sample interaction:

Israel to Palestinian: “Oy! You gonna blow yourself up? How’s that gonna help you?”

Palestinian to Israeli: “Well, you guys keep oppressing us!”

Israeli to Palestinian: “And I should suffer because the other schmucks are doing that?”

Palestinian: “Well, my schmucks are suffering, so your schmucks should suffer too.”

Israeli to Palestinian: “You’re totally meshuggah, my friend, you really are. Sit your tukhus on that chair and let’s talk this over a cuppa something.”

Palestinian to Israeli: “Okay, but then I have to go, okay?”

I don’t know about the other ills of the world, but I do know that both interpersonal conflicts and wars are a result of people committing the sin of Taking Themselves Too Seriously. And you know what’s worse than Taking Yourself Too Seriously? Taking Someone Else Too Seriously.

Take the example of a guru (who shall remain nameless), who recently announced that his brand of yoga could “cure” homosexuality. Being the smart tukhus that I am, I’d feel inclined to say to him,

“Guruji! If yoga can switch your sexual orientation, what if I stumble upon a class that ‘cures’ my heterosexuality? ‘Cause, you know, if it can switch it one way, what’s to keep it from inadvertently switching it the other way? My girlfriend’s not going to let me out of the house from now on!”

Can you imagine how many wars and interpersonal conflicts would’ve been averted if we had a “Someone’s-Taking-Themselves-Too-Seriously” Detector? Anytime anyone would go Holier-Than-Thou and we tended to delegate our own thinking and intuition to them because of their “Spiritual Authority” (“Well, Guruji says…”), the Seriousness Detector would cue a round of laughter and a “You’re meshuggah, Guruji, you really are, but we love you anyway.”

Newflash: you can develop your Seriousness Detector. Feeling too annoyed at someone’s behavior? “Ha ha ha ha!”: uh-oh, the Seriousness Detector went off. Taking someone else’s spiritual, political and “expert” opinion too… “Ha ha ha ha!” Oops, there it goes again.

So what I’m proposing here is that we treat our gurus, our political leaders and our so-called “experts” with the same good-natured mellowness as a friend we’ve known since childhood. That way, we never defer our intelligence and intuition to them, they never go on an ego trip with the energy we give them (ever notice that when someone’s on an ego trip, they’re never good-humored?), and, because some things they say are spot on and others aren’t, nobody would have to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I know I’d feel better. God knows there have been times when I issued great moral pronouncements and black-and-white assertions, and I would’ve benefited from a little good-natured laughter and someone saying, “Oh, that’s just Ricardo. He’s meshuggah, he really is. But we still love him.” In such a guru-less world, I can breathe a lot better… and so can everyone else.

Ricardo das Neves is the author of two fiction and two non-fiction books mixing spirituality and humor, and is committed to keeping a minimum 35% wit content in his website. When he’s not trying to be funny, he acts very serious teaching yoga classes in and around Seattle.

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