from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #46: Buddha’s Blessing

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In Korea, today was a “red day” for Buddha’s birthday. Having the day off was a blessing. I haven’t written on Monday since the end of April because a scheduling issue resulted in me having a late class on Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s another of my quirks but I can’t write if I know that I have to go to work later.

I’ve never gone to temple and I confess I don’t know too much about Buddhism but the little I know, I agree with. In some sense, the book is about my path toward finding peace while doing my military service, and my few run-ins with Buddhism did have an influence on me. Zen and the Korean Army, I could title it. It was a very contemplative period in my life, perhaps mostly because there wasn’t anything else to do.

I don’t know much but I think that sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. How much nicer would the world be if Christians would just forget everything else and hold fast the principle of loving people? To me, that’s what Christianity is about, and Buddhism is about not giving a damn about things that don’t really matter. I’ve never been able to shed all earthly desire and don’t plan to, but there is a lot in this world that I don’t give a damn about.

It could be said that this is a result of the Army. During boot camp, I learned that “desire is the cause of suffering” deep in my core because, having everything stripped away, I learned what it meant to desire everything and how painful it could be. It wasn’t until nearly a year later in Afghanistan that I learned to let things go, and that first year was the most painful year in my life. Every night I would go to sleep asking myself, “What the fuck am I doing here?” I stopped asking myself that question sometime in the desert.

I’m content with my life. I don’t make much money and don’t have much that anybody would want, if anything at all, but I’m content. If there is anything I really want, it’s to be successful as a writer and I’m okay with the idea that I never make it big. I still hold on to that hope, however. In high school, I was told by a Buddhist monk that if you have a goal, you should aim high. It didn’t seem like a very Buddhist thing to say but it wasn’t bad advice.

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Written by Young

May 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm

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