Dan Fleshler

The Covid Curriculum It’s never too lateto learn new skills. For the first time,I cut my own hair,disinfected a humidifier,sewed on a coat button (nope, never bothered with that,it wasn’t necessary in spoiled brat luftmensch land),kept an eye out the windowfor white tail flashesuntil the early spring juncos arrived,and finally concentrated,finally paid rapt attention,without letting the mind and heart meander,when I spoke to the masked womanwho fearfully, carefully delivers my mailbecause this lockdown,this shakedown scheme by the universe,is a better teacherthan any dharma master. If Shantideva Got My Rejection Letters “We cannot trust Death’s wild ways. It doesn’t wait until we finish our work.” –Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva What got the monk Shantidevaout of bed every morning1300 years ago?Didn’t he want to be a player?Wasn’t there a drive to build,to erect somethingfrom nothing,to fling words against the voidand make them, somehow, stick?Or did he just note those yearnings,those dogs of ambition nippingat his scuffed-up heels,and then let them dissolve? Don’t tell meit was just the warm pure obligationto free the deludedthat made him toil overhis guide to the bodhisattva’s pathand nurture the compassionfor all sentient beingsthat bloomsonce we embraceemptiness.Sorry, I don’t buy it.Writing perfect wordsis too damn hard. He also must have wanted to do,and not just be,to squeeze purpose out of every moment,and enlist his self for something important,to make and not just submitto what was already made.And if that’s not the same irritable dogthat nips at my heels,then what is it? In one legend, he rose up to the sky and vanishedwhile reciting what he’d written.Poof, went our bodhisattva!In another, he left the monastery andfaded into the world,became an anonymous palace guard.
Did he disappearbecause he knewthat abiding in emptinessmeant becoming no one?Or did he give upbecause too many dharma editorstold him thanks but no thanks,we wish you the best of luckwith your submission,but we don’t thinkyour wordsare going to stick? I spent a lot of timetrying to be someone and somethingand a lot of timetrying to be no one and nothing.I still don’t knowhow to beand whether to do.