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Meditation on a Whoopie Cushion

Meditation on a Whoopie Cushion

Here’s a little story and a lesson that I learned just this week:

As I explained a few weeks back, I always celebrate a traditional Christmas with my extended family on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day with my closer family. It’s fun, and more of a family gathering than anything overtly religious.

On Christmas Eve, at the big extended family party, there are aunts & uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, second cousins and friends of the family and always a few I can’t quite identify. Always lots of people. In order to avoid paying out a fortune in gifts to exchange, everyone brings a gift valued at $10 and we play this oddball game where you can pick a known gift or unwrap a random one. I’m not going into the details of the game, but somehow, while others got DVDs, books, coffee cups, and store gift cards, I wound up with a deck of cards and a whoopie cushion.

I personally spent a good it of time looking for my contribution to the game, a nice set of frosted glass candles. Whoever bought the whoopie cushion not only wasn’t thinking about age-appropriateness, they couldn’t possibly have spent $10 on it. To make a long story short, I got ‚Äúripped off‚Äù in the game.

I know it would have bothered me a few years ago. I’d have sat there and seethed through the rest of the party and then griped about it for weeks to come. The thing is, it didn’t bother me. I was able to let go of it, not to be attached to my anger, and not to develop my resentment. I’m not going to say it wasn’t there at all, or I wouldn’t have noticed the slight and would never have considered writing this post, but the resentment was in control and limited and I was able to get rid of it quickly and mindfully. I was able to simply tell myself that anger was wrong and to let it go; and it went away. I even remember telling myself that it was better that I got the junk prize rather than someone who would have been disappointed with it or let anger take over.

I sat there in silence, enjoying watching others play the game and walk off with the good gifts. When the game was over, I handed my bag over to my 5-year-old nephew, the youngest one there, and he had a great time running around with the whoopie cushion, blasting it in everyone’s face. He loved it, and everyone got a kick out of him playing with it.

I credit my equanimity entirely to my Buddhist practice. I am far more mindful now than I was even only a year ago. When I got home from the party, I got on Twitter and joked about the cushion for a while with other Twitterites. Eventually someone suggested that the Dalai Lama would probably love to receive a whoopie cushion and that I should mail it to him. If you’ve ever seen the Dalai Lama interviewed, his sense of humor is very strong. There were a couple of rounds of great posts between myself and a few Twitter friends, and I probably ended up having more fun because of that stupid little rubber toy than I would have from a more ‚Äòserious‚Äù gift. Everything is subjective and open to interpretation. YOU make your own reality, whether it is contentment or resentment.

During the Twitter chat, someone asked, ‚ÄúIf one sits on a whoopie cushion, does one attain instant enlightenment?‚Äù My answer to him at the time was a joke, ‚ÄúYou’ll certainly attain something, but enlightenment probably isn’t it.‚Äù Upon further contemplation though, I could have been wrong. Maybe a whoopie cushion CAN be a step toward enlightenment.

Follow Brian on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DailyBuddhism

2 comments to Meditation on a Whoopie Cushion

  • Micah

    I too notice a difference in my attitude this Christmas. Over the years, I have become increasing disenchanted with Christmas. It seems that year after year, I have had a growing sense of “is this it” after all of the presents were opened. That disappointment is usually wrapped up in, I must admit, self loathing based on the fact that I didnt get what I REALLY wanted and that others got more than me. This year was different. I didnt have that disappointed/ selfish feeling after Christmas. It may have been because my presents were more to my liking (a few books that I had picked out, and some cash from family) but, I cant help but think that my expanding Buddhist practice also had something to do with it. I was more interested this year in watching the happiness of others than in my own selfishness. Maybe I am making steps in the right direction 🙂

  • Sometimes I feel that the first Noble Truth is really demonstrable at no better time than Christmas! This is a holiday I really try to approach without any expectations or desire at all, and I’ve found it makes a world of difference. I don’t get the best or the most presents (and that’s perfectly fine), because my tastes are hard to understand and I don’t actually want for a lot; conversely those people who want a lot of stuff are easy to shop for (and I’m happy they make it that easy)!

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