I am reading a good book.
It is entertaining and it is inspiring.
I quote from the back cover:
“In life, it’s important to have a destination. Then you need a ride. Our Buddhist cab driver guides us safely down the sometimes slippery Dharma Road, pointing out the Buddhist landmarks along the way–the four noble truths, precepts, and eightfold path–before taking a hard left for a coffee break and a quick lesson in patience.
“Dharma Road is street-level for people who live in the real world, those of us stuck in traffic worrying about the details–making the rent, meeting our deadlines, craving the latest smartphone–to busy to notice the light hitting the motor oil on the wet pavement creating a rainbow.”
It is a easy read. But don’t let this dismay you. I feel like Brian is my friend and we are sitting down together chatting over coffee, or wine. He is wise and witty.
And he lives in Austin, Texas. Those of you who follow me know I just returned from a week in Austin where my son just started graduate school at The University of Texas in Structural Engineering. I will be writing about the trip at a later time, but if you like, you can see photographs from our trip here.
I have not hailed a cab in years.
|Photo by Bruce Barone.|
I miss cab rides. I remember a few cab drivers. I always talked with them. One time, I met a man from Cairo. He told me he was leaving New York City for Arizona. He said he loved Russian Literature and could not wait to move to his new home and “listen to opera and read Russian literature.
Another time when I got off the ferry from New Jersey to New York City and into the cab, the driver puts his hands up near his face and moves them to and from as if he is praying or seeing visions of angels. “You know what I’m doing,” he asks me. “Praying,” I answer. “Oh, no,” he says. “I’m looking at the chads,” This, my driver from Ghana.
I remember a ride I affectionately called The Banzai Pipeline. I was in New York City and my feet were sore and swollen and I needed a good pick-me-up. His name was Bonsu Osei, taxi license number 048360; license to kill. As we head down Fifth Avenue I felt as if I was surfing the Banzai Pipeline. I saw nothing but a flurry of color, heads seemed to turn to watch us careening down the avenue. I felt we were going to have a wipeout. We came to a screeching halt at a red light and a man in a wheelchair wheels himself over to Banzai Bonsu’s window and says “spare some change?” And Banzai Bonsu gives the man in the wheelchair change. And I wonder if the man in the wheelchair is a man Bannzai Bonsu ran over surfing the streets of New York City.
Where was I going? What was my destination? I was going to hear Maceo Parker at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Maceo, a 15-year veteran of James Brown’s legendary JBs and a pivotal member of the Parliament Funkadelic, is a tenor saxophonist who can rock. As he said “98% Funk, 2% Jazz.” I remember the concert well. The joint was jumping. One song rolled into another: “Stand by Me;” “Purple Rain;” “Cupid;” “Charlie Brown You’re a Clown.”
“We are going to get higher tonight,” Maceo said. And we did.
Ah. Dharma Road.
When on the bridge, the pilgrim says Rama, Rama, but afterwards, it’s Kama, Kama.
– Hindu proverb
Pilgrims traveling in the Himalayas sometimes must cross deep ravines on rope bridges. While on the bridge, which is swinging like a pendulum, everyone says Rama, Rama, Rama, “Lord, Lord, Lord,” with as much devotion as he or she can muster. But as soon as the first step is taken on terra firma, it is likely to be kama, kama, kama, “Pleasure, Pleasure, Pleasure.” When we are in the middle of turmoil we are very responsive to the mantram; but as soon as our health is good, our income is steady, and pleasures are flowing smoothly, we forget.
The Lord is a good psychologist: he knows the way our minds run. Turmoil can be his way of tapping us on the shoulder and saying, “Don’t forget me.”
|Photo by Bruce Barone.|