Momentary lapse of reason
When i was younger i sometimes dreamt of being famous. Whether a singer or a movie star, i looked up to the ‘stars’ as a youngster.
Now a little older i realize that being famous comes with a big price. First of all a loss of privacy. Not being able to go somewhere without being recognized. Having to live up to others expectations or disappointing people for not living up to their expectations. What a life. And what is even more striking to me, is that being famous is very likely to inflate the ego.
As i can see what pride does in my very anonymous life far from the cameras and media, i cannot imagine what it’s like to having to deal with those issues on a daily basis. So i rather focus on seeing my life as a movie, a film, an illusory display of the mind. So no need to be in others people movies too!
Lately i’ve noticed a wish for simplicity in my life. Less distractions, less fuzz, less buzz. So basically i long for anonymity, like being in a desert where no one can remember your name, for the lack of reverence. America sang about it beautifully. Longing for anonymity does not mean that i don’t want to interact with the world. But if you’re anonymous, there are no expectations.
Reading the life stories of Patrul Rinpoche (a famous Tibetan Buddhist teacher from the 19th century) illustrates this with beautiful examples.
The book which was composed by Matthieu Ricard (see Enlightend Vagabond – The Life and Teachings of Patrul Rinpoche for more info) has multiple stories where this great realized master is disguised as a simple nomadic traveler. And disguised is perhaps not the right word, cause it’s a deliberate choice of the master to wander around like this. In being anonymous, Patrul Rinpoche helps beings without limit, not being limited by the formal ceremonies people perform when they would’ve recognized him. He just wants to be and act out of compassion for all beings. To me he sets a wonderful example of the limitlessness of true unconditional compassion. No need to get praise for the achievements as a master, he is humble and helping wherever possible. When i compare this to the way we treat our stars nowadays, the contrast is striking. We glorify Hollywood stars and Grammy award winning artists and take their opinions serious, sometimes more serious than scientific experts or politicians.
The most important thing i’ve learned from Patrul Rinpoche is that the best thing one can do to counter pride and arrogance, is to practice compassion.
Patrul once wrote:
One: Praise is nonsense – empty and unfounded.
Two: Fame just results in a swollen head
Three: Creating a cache of riches out of offerings creates a rich cache of bad karma
Having given up all these three, May I, Old Dog, die like a dog
Enlightened Vagabond – The Life and Teachings of Patrul Rinpoche
by Matthieu Ricard