Thank You

     “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
     Those, so I am told, were the dying words of Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, the man who brought Zen to the West.
     Based on that evidence alone, I’d say the guy had the right attitude and lived a pretty good life.
     So far as I know, D.T. Suzuki never went on TV and asked people to send him money.
     He never demanded that science classes in public schools teach children that Brahma created the universe while He was high on soma.
     He never said that things would be fine if only you would think the way he did.
     He never tried to persuade anyone of anything.
     He never promised anyone a thing.
     What kind of religion is that?
     It’s not like any religion we’ve got in America these days.
     I don’t know if Zen is a religion or not. It has monks and spiritual leaders and so on, but if you ask a Zen master a question, he is likely to hit you with a stick and shout at you and tell you to sit down and shut up and figure it out yourself.
     That’s the kind of religion this country needs.
     When I lived in Mexico, I threw a big party on Thanksgiving and invited the whole staff of the Notimex office over and fed them turkey and stuffing and pie and beer. It was great. It was something I liked about the United States that I wanted to show them.
     The boss of the Notimex office didn’t show up. He didn’t want to celebrate a U.S. holiday.
     I could understand that. There were no hard feelings. I didn’t want to force Thanksgiving on him.
     Forcing things on people, however, seems to have become the American way.
     Think of anything that presumably has to do with America these days. What do we do with it? We force it on people. Guns, God, elections – rigged or not, the jobs we used to have.
     “Here! Have my God! Take him! No, really! I insist! Take these guns, too! And these jobs! Take these computers! You can see naked women on them! Take them! We insist!”
     On Thanksgiving, all you force on people is a little more food.
     It’s my favorite holiday because there are no strings.
     No religion.
     No celebration of wars, past, present or future.
     No hard sell to buy things.
     No pressure to go out and dance and get drunk and be happier than you are on any other night.
     No obligation to give or receive presents.
     Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, which is why it hasn’t been screwed up yet.
     I do have, however, a brief quotation from the Bible for you. It’s from the Gospel of Matthew 6:5. “When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”
     Hypocrites, in other words, are show-offs.
     Hypocrites are obnoxious.
     We have a lot of them.
     The 2008 election – God help us – already has started. Even from people who should know better, we are hearing far too much about God, far too little about guns, and what guns do, and to whom. And we are hearing far, far too much hypocrisy and bullshit.
     “When thou prayest,” Matthew said, “enter into thy closet and … shut thy door.”
     Wouldn’t it be great if every politician in the United States would do that?
     Wouldn’t it be great if every poofy-haired tub-thumping screaming crying holy roller on TV did it too?
     What if we were all a little bit less like the hypocrites and a little bit more like old Matthew, or old Mr. Suzuki?
     That would be something to be thankful for.

%d bloggers like this: