In this edition of Gendercidal, Semtex explores the stock wisdom people like to give–usually wrongly attributed to Buddha–in the aftermath of a failed relationship.
Buddha had a lot of ideas. And he clearly never had any emotional attachment if he genuinely believed in any of them. For no one can be possibly that “zen” about being fucked over, most especially by someone you surrendered beaucoup de valuable time to, assuming that time would not be wasted on the sole by-product of being lonely day old bread. Oh but you can’t look it at that way. It was another growing experience that made you who you are and helped you to learn what you want and don’t want in a “partner.”
First of all, shut the fuck up while you sit over there high and mighty and not alone and doomed to never be understood by another human being. Second of all, “partner.” That gross word people like to use to describe their feeling of “completeness.” As though they have a cohort in the purgatory called life. But no one has a cohort, not really–for no one can ever truly see what is going on behind the eyes, where the mind resides all fraught with insecurity and plotting of every variety. Some of that plotting, however, does not include thinking to double check on that oft misquoted aphorism from “Buddha” that goes: “In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” While, sure, maybe it’s believable Buddha could have spouted such bullshit, it was actually Jack Kornfield (why not just Kornball at that point?) who touted this in his 1994 “instruction book” aptly entitled Buddha’s Little Instruction Book. Mind you, Bantam, the publisher, was definitely onto something in choosing to peddle this “small handbook, [in which] a well-known American Buddhist teacher and psychologist has distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life.”
the teachings of Buddha are irrelevant, for it is most people’s built-in coping mechanism to “let go” (a.k.a. pretend to forget via myriad distractions typically including alcohol)
You have to remember (or try to understand if you weren’t alive at the time) that the 90’s saw a renaissance in the promotion of New Age-y hooey. It’s the primary reason why Enigma’s Return to Innocence was such a big hit in 1993, and was featured on most compilation CDs being sold on TV at the time (yes it’s almost impossible to think people called 1-800 numbers to order things). The point is, Bantam, in all its marketing wisdom, was able to see the value of repurposing “Buddha’s teachings” through the funnel of a California-based white man.…how deeply are you supposed to let go? Of course it can only be a superficial release of the past primarily as a means to function on a day to day basis without melting into a puddle onto the floor. In this way, the teachings of Buddha are irrelevant, for it is most people’s built-in coping mechanism to “let go” (a.k.a. pretend to forget via myriad distractions typically including alcohol) for their own basic survival and self-preservation.
Who now, of course, takes most of the credit for all of Buddha’s cliches. And they are cliches that still somehow get a scorned lover through an “emotional setback,” which is merely an understatement for being psychologically gutted for someone else’s own sport. Because it is, at its core, a sport to lackadaisically go through life “pulling out” when one has had his fill of something. I use the pronoun “he,” of course, because this form of emotional evisceration remains a skill that men have perfected more than women. Save for your immortalized femme fatales (e.g. Mata Hari) who only became that way either because they have a Maleficent origin story or they were vilified by the male writers of history. In any event, it is a falsity–regardless if it was said by Buddha or Jack Kornfield–to say that the only things that matter in the end (or, in this case, in the wake of a failed relationship) are how well you loved and how deeply you let go.
If you truly loved someone, and it ended against your will because you had the misfortune of funneling all of your ardor into a sociopathic softboy (far more insidious than a fuckboy, by the way), how deeply are you supposed to let go? In this way, the teachings of Buddha are irrelevant, for it is most people’s built-in coping mechanism to “let go” (a.k.a. pretend to forget via myriad distractions typically including alcohol) for their own basic survival and self-preservation. Plus, from a social acceptance standpoint, no one wants to hear (or read) you prattle on about the same person forever. It will only you get you a therapist/straightjacket recommendation as opposed to empathy or understanding. Or, if you’re Nora Ephron, a publishing offer.
That other misquoted Buddhaism, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” is also an extremely vexing piece of “comfort” to receive from someone. It’s almost as though everybody is content to “let go” not because they truly want to, but because it is such a maligned practice to harbor grudges toward people (in this case, an ex) that did you wrong. I’m sorry we can’t all read the Zohar (oops, mixing religious teachings) and feel mystical about forgiveness. I’m sorry that some of us do not think that releasing another person from culpability for the damage they’ve caused to your life is a way for you to move on. Because, as said before, if you are a human being, it is actually impossible to ever really move on from a trauma. The scar stays inside of you, festering to the point where it becomes a physical aura emanating from your body that screams “damaged goods” to the men that just want to capitalize on your vulnerability for a one-off fuck before moving onto a girl that’s not quite so…bruised.
In essence, if Mr. Kornball/Buddha were to ask me face to face, “How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?,” I would say, “I loved very well and it was pissed on before being lit into the fire that is now my perpetual hate. Living fully? Sure, I’ve had plenty of good meals. And I’ve let go only in just such a way so as to ensure that seeing a nearby razor won’t send me into full-tilt Richie Tenenbaum mode.” And still Buddha laughs and nods along, as though I’ve just told him a wonderful joke. But then, that is what my life is without love in it.