humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

If You See The Buddha On The Road, Kiss Him

Posted by spritzophrenia on June 23, 2010

I’m thinking about benevolence. And compassion.

Early this morning the sky is grey and the Snapper card on the bus doesn’t work. I have only $4.80 left to my name. Just enough for the coffee which I’m hoping to treat myself to before the long walk home. I don’t tell the driver that. I’m too embarrassed.

I offer to pay cash and she tells me not to worry, “It’s the machine’s fault”. She gifts me a free ride into town.

I’m mulling this over as I leave my appointment and walk through the gentle rain. It’s so light it feels like prickles of mist on my face. Pleasant sensations.

Compassion is a word that Buddhists use a lot. It’s one of the really good things about Gautama’s “middle path”. I want to have more compassion for others, and even more so, for myself.

coffee flower

Coffee Flower.

Tiredly trudging along Willis Street, I’m conflicted. I really owe a gift to the couple who let me live with them when I needed help. Even if I buy a card from the thrift shop I won’t have enough for coffee. I decide I want to do the right thing, and buy the card. Ironically, the only blank card there has a photograph of a full cup of coffee. At the counter the friendly Chinese New Zealander gives me a large silver candle with my purchase. “We’re giving them away to celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year”. “That’s right,” I think, “we’ve just had the turn of the winter solstice.” I’m amazed and grateful. I love candles.

I walk into a trendy Cuba Mall café, planning to ask them what my remaining $2.80 will get me. “Not much”, is the answer I’m expecting. Wonderfully, a long black is only $2.50. I was hoping for a latté, but that will be fine. I put my remaining silver, copper and brass on the counter, explaining I want to check if I have a few cents left in my EFTPOS account.

“Don’t worry about it mate, sort us out another time.” He gives me a discount latté, again unasked.

Now I’m sitting at a comfortable wooden table, feeling serene. Thankyou Cafe Plum.

Sometimes the search for meaning can seem long and hard. I’m not suggesting ‘the universe provides’. I don’t believe that. Whatever our beliefs, I think we can all agree the world could use a little more compassion.



more below

When I’m not listening to Deicide I’m listening to Carbon Based Lifeform‘s eponymous Hydroponic Garden I cannot rate this album highly enough.

That thing about ‘the Universe’? I’m going to come back to it in a future post.

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Feelings? What do you think?

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32 Responses to “If You See The Buddha On The Road, Kiss Him”

  1. Iain said

    Hrmm. You made me feel a little melancholy, but with a smile and a little bit of warmth hiding inside there somewhere too.

    If this was a church service I’d be silently praising god for his furtive providence with the synchronicity of you receiving the candle, and for the kindness of Cafe Plum. I’d also be praising you (not too loudly to ruin the humble moment, mind you) for your decision to buy the card and forgo your own needs first.

    Instead I’m here, on this blog, unsure of what to make of a day filled with interesting moments. For what it’s worth, I think the experience was definitely worth the $4.80.

  2. I love hearing about these moments in time when a sequence of actions can all hold a connecting trait. It’s brilliant to see how someone can experience such compassion in such a small frame of time, even if only in what would seemingly be small ways.

    Great piece, gives me a good bit to muse on (as a person who should DEFINITELY think of compassion more).

  3. ok, write novels. Holy, this is good!

    • Thankyou. From a writer like you, that is high praise, Romy. *humble*

    • Oh, and I have been “planning” a novel for some time too. I have several chapters of one written, but am starting to feel inspired to work on another.

      And longsuffering readers of this blog will be relieved to know they’re nothing to do with god/atheism/meaning šŸ˜‰

  4. Look, go with what you have. I’m sure it’s good. Still in awe.

  5. Fairy Wyrd said

    Compassion is a huge thing to be able to find in yourself, especially when you’re feeling like you’re at the bottom. You did the unselfish thing and bought the card, then found you were still able to have your coffee. Yay to the universe helping you so quickly. šŸ™‚
    I’m a very giving person and have been finding lately that I’m being given a lot lately, not just material things (eg being offered a bag of clothes for myself and my daughter, rather than them going in to a second hand shop or clothing bin) but love and support from others. Going from isolation to discovering I have people around me and in my life (that aren’t out for all they can get) has made the bad times worth it. I’ve discovered that the people who have used me in the past and taken advantage of me, have had some karma come their way. What they did to me came back to them. The more you give (either way), the more comes back, so surely it’s better to give good stuff rather than the bad. If only more people understood this. Love and Light

    • Yeah, it sounds kinda cheesey but that “pay it forward” type stuff is good. The world would be a better place if more people thought like you.

      Thanks for your comment šŸ™‚

  6. Last penny for coffee. I’d do the same.

  7. I absolutely love this post! It’s beautiful and full of love. Thank you for sharing this… and thank you for receiving with awareness and ease.


  8. Cristine said

    I think so many find it hard to be compassionate because the way they retain a sense of total control over their lives is to fool themselves into thinking “THEY must have done something to deserve it (whatever their circumstances are)and since I don’t do what they did, that could never happen to me.” It’s a false sense of security however and any of us (and probably all of us at some point) will find ourselves in situations where a little compassion is needed.

  9. Mari said

    You were so right to have DM’d me here! I am moved by what you wrote, how you said it, the ideas, the rhythm, the story all. Very beautiful. Thank you.

  10. Very touching. Cultivating and sharing compassion and kindness is perhaps the greatest good.

  11. […] If You See The Buddha On The Road, Kiss Him […]

  12. Anne said

    As you’ll know from my other comments, I decided to spend some concentrated time on your blog these last couple of days. What a nice ride it’s been! This is the post I really needed today, and am glad I found. It is a very personal story, and you tell it in a way that brings us all there with you. The choice between needed sustenance and a gift… wow, that’s a place one doesn’t forget. Thank you, J, for the gift!

  13. kelly said

    What made you turn to Buddha? You’re very inspiring! Blessed are the ones who knows that life is not just for one-self!

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  15. […] Thanks to my new readers, you may enjoy my more positive story: If you see the Buddha on the road, kiss him. […]

  16. Arz Sra said

    Enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  17. Anne said

    Glad someone named Arz brought this post back into rotation. It’s one of my favorites… something about making the adjustment of taking care of needs instead of wants, and having to defer comfort… but then receiving the surprising compassion, and having the little moment of joy over such a small thing as being able to enjoy a coffee. Makes me appreciate the everyday comforts I have.

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