Can you have enough Buddha?

Can you have enough Buddha?

Guest Article: Second Arrow

by / / 21 posts

A god I use expletives with, that is a god I can work with; the Buddha, the bikes, the cosmic circle of life, FFS.

VLVV, Gianni

I think of myself as a sort of casual, armchair Buddhist. I make a little ritual of sitting down to meditate in the morning–but only most mornings and only for a few minutes. I read a little bit about the tradition, and then I forget what I’ve read. But there’s one Buddhist story that sticks with me all the time. I don’t know if it’s “authentic,” whatever that might mean. Please don’t ask me to cite sources; I used to be a scholar but not of Buddhism so I won’t oblige your request.

The Buddha is talking with a student (what else does he have to do?), and he says, “If I shot you with an arrow, would it hurt?”

The student replies, “Yes, Buddha, that would hurt like a motherfucker.”

The Buddha continues, “You’re damn right. Now, what if, having shot you with an arrow, I then shot you with a second arrow? Would that hurt even more?”

The student thinks about it and says, “Yes. That would hurt even more.”

The Buddha says, “That second arrow? That’s your reaction to the first arrow.”

There’s a lot of suffering to be explained by that story, in my opinion. Think about it if you want. But what occurred to me today is that the story has something to say not only about how we respond to what we’ve already experienced but about what we anticipate experiencing in the future. We imagine pain in the future when we haven’t even been there yet.

For me, especially in the winter? I loathe for my bike to be coated in gritty filth; I detest it like Agent Smith detests his sense, which he likens to smell, of humans, in their septic biology. I also dislike my proportions on the bike; I’m too short and too fat. Much worse than either of these things, I anticipate having a filthy bike and resenting my genetic inheritance before I ever even get on the bike. To adduce interval sessions on the trainer in this context would be redundant. But–and you saw this coming–every time I get on the bike, I feel better, both during the ride and after.

This morning I had plans for my day, but those plans were wrecked excuse me impacted by other people who had their own (fucking stupid, don’t even ask) plans, and I had to radically change my plans. This is challenging for me. And so I started thinking about filth and the time required for proper bike maintenance and about being fat and slow and then about early cocktails. But later in the day I got on my bike, and I felt a lot better.

The Universe, taken as a whole, produces the cold, often filthy and wet, descent that inaugurates winter rides from my home. It’s also responsible for my genetics. But acceptance of what’s given–rather than the anticipatory loathing of what I fear or hate–is liberation and enjoyment. This is something I want to remember more often and earlier in the day.

// Guest Article

  1. Om. Very cool.

  2. Of course, it makes sense.

  3. But later in the day I got on my bike, and I felt a lot better.

    This is where it counts friend, nice article, and very deep. There should be a disclaimer in the title line, “Do not read if not sober” ,…..actually maybe it should be “If sober do not read”….who knows…great job Peakin!

  4. Mmm, very wise.

    This is what I admire most about my cat (stay with me here…).

    Dogs pine for things they miss. They anticipate pleasures to come when they see items or hear words and they regret things gone whether it be people or situations. If I dropped dead my dog would lie next to me and slowly starve.

    But cats in general, and my Abu Dhabi cat in particular, live in the present. He was a street cat, literally living out of garbage skips and fighting to survive a nasty, short and brutish life. Now he has limitless food, warm places to sleep and much attention. But if it all went back tomorrow he would just get on with it. He has no horizon. If I dropped down dead he would wait until he ran out of food and then start eating me.

    That cat is my own personal cue to bring to mind things like acceptance of the moment, without regret or wishfulness.

  5. There is that theory that the human brain can only feel one pain. So the good thing about the second arrow is that it removes the pain of the first one.

    A bit like how, fortunately, we can’t actually remember pain, aka The Man With The Hammer, and so happily go out to face him again.

  6. @ChrisO

    Mmm, very wise.

    This is what I admire most about my cat (stay with me here…).

    Dogs pine for things they miss. They anticipate pleasures to come when they see items or hear words and they regret things gone whether it be people or situations. If I dropped dead my dog would lie next to me and slowly starve.

    But cats in general, and my Abu Dhabi cat in particular, live in the present. He was a street cat, literally living out of garbage skips and fighting to survive a nasty, short and brutish life. Now he has limitless food, warm places to sleep and much attention. But if it all went back tomorrow he would just get on with it. He has no horizon. If I dropped down dead he would wait until he ran out of food and then start eating me.

    That cat is my own personal cue to bring to mind things like acceptance of the moment, without regret or wishfulness.

    I find them fascinating but have “issues” with canine immorality. But then again, I never raced as any Cat.

    Love your profile Peakin’.

    (Good to be back riding (and posting)).

  7. @ChrisO

    Yes, that describes my relationship with my current feline partner exactly. And I love him for all the same reasons.

  8. I can understand. I’m also a casual Buddhist and Renaissance cyclist. There is rarely such a thing as a bad bike ride – kind of like surfing. The important thing is the going,

  9. But later in the day I got on my bike, and I felt a lot better.

    This sums up every fucking day of my week.

  10. @PT

    I can understand. I’m also a casual Buddhist and Renaissance cyclist. There is rarely such a thing as a bad bike ride – kind of like surfing. The important thing is the going,

    This. You’ll only regret the rides/surfs you didn’t go for.

    Buddhism. Its a beautiful thing, I think. Even casual, armchair Buddhism. I always remember William S Burroughs saying “the East is not for the West” and scathing judgements of people who meditate and hang prayer flags but then go to work as bankers and lawyers.

    Reading Siddhartha in my early 20’s changed me alot. Especially “I can think, I can wait, I can fast”. That line has served me many times and in many contexts. Its a good mantra for a cyclist.

    Om.

  11. Buddha

    Too fat to climb.

  12. Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”

  13. I’d had a hard week of training. I raced on Wednesday. I turned my 45 minute cycle commute into a 50km hill fest on Friday morning, and then on Friday evening instead of taking the short way home I took the longer route that packs a lot of rolling hills, steeper and longer than you’d really like, into a 35k route. And on each hill I beasted myself, and at the top of each one my legs and thinking brain said ‘no more, take the next one steady’, but each time I went hard again.

    Arrow after arrow, but by the time I got home I’d forgotten all about the pain and felt a hell of a lot better about myself. Reset, start again tomorrow morning…

  14. @Steampunk

    “A broken staff,” as I snap it in half across my knee. “Just like your riddle.”

    Shuzan looks on, vanquished.

  15. There is nothing quite like the dread of waking up and hearing the patter of rain, knowing that it’s your day to go turn yourself inside out riding lactate threshold intervals. Knowing that it’s going to hurt; that it’s going to be miserable. And then you’re going to have to clean the bike once you get home.

    But it’s still better than not doing it.

  16. @Steampunk

    Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”

    As if the debate about sock length wasn’t confusing enough…

  17. @Harminator

    @Steampunk

    Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”

    As if the debate about sock length wasn’t confusing enough…

    Wasn’t it determined that sock length did indeed correlate length of staff?

  18. @fignons barber

    @Harminator

    @Steampunk

    Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”

    As if the debate about sock length wasn’t confusing enough…

    Wasn’t it determined that sock length did indeed correlate length of staff?

    No grasshopper. Not if you’re a giraffe.

  19. I’m the worst meditator, but I keep at it! Goal for this year has been to work on being present in the moment. Life is good and nothing wrong with planning, but I usually have my mind going in so many directions that I forget to just enjoy the moment, enjoy the day.

    Speaking of sock length…I coach youth lacrosse. Cleat length needs to be discussed with these kids! They have these god awful mid-calf height cleats, and in camo no less! I always wore white socks and low-top white cleats. Classy.

  20. @Steampunk

    Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”

    Errrr . . . one half of a pair of staffs?

  21. The staff is both a staff and a short staff. It’s both a staff and not a staff. If I’m hit with that which I call a staff it will hurt.

    The effects of forgetting to eat on yesterday’s long ride was the first hit with the staff. My being an asshole about it was the second hit with the staff.

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