…but what happens when you meet the Buddha on the subway? Give him a good shove! Seriously, he won’t mind.
I’m on the subway, having the typical interaction with that guy that insists on standing in the substibule…and this time he’s as big as the Buddha.
As I push by him I try the rational approach, “You know if you step into the car, we don’t have to push by you as we get on the train.”
“That’s okay, we all have to get on the train.”
I finish pushing by him and try my second tactic, “You would actually be more comfortable stepping in to the train. You see? …because then we wouldn’t have to push you to get through.”
He shrugs with a nod of his head, “People get pushed in life. You have to be okay with it.”
“You don’t mind being bumped around?”
“In life, bumps happen.”
“You can’t let it bother you.”
Usually reaching out to people’s selfish side, their desire for self-comfort works, but not this time. Could I have actually encountered someone in a state of Nirvana…perfectly content and without desire while riding the subway. Could this man really care not a wit about his own comfort? Is this really the way he lives? He certainly seemed as happy as can be possible…
I decided to test him. At the next stop, he’s still standing in the doorway just as fat as ever, and there are people on the train that desperately want to get off. Again, he would not move.
I cry out, “Just push him out of the way! He doesn’t mind getting shoved!”
The guy trying to get off looks at me inquisitively, precious seconds ticking by before he loses his egress. He looks at the Buddha who just shrugs and nods. The commuter decides to take my advice and pushes the Buddha…hard. The Buddha reels but remains perfectly content. He is indeed in Nirvana.
…but here’s my problem with my Subway Buddha.
Nirvana seems to be effective enough to bring contentedness to the self, but in this case it is at the sacrifice of others’ happiness. Is it possible to achieve Nirvana for yourself if you also bring unhappiness to others? Just not-wanting doesn’t seem to be the answer. Is it too much to ask for people to go out of their way to make life easier for someone else, or does wanting other’s lives to be better interfere with one’s quest for Nirvana?