and to practice joy and equanimity."
(Like "Far F*****g Out!")
I guess, more than anything, this tendency to be somewhat foul-mouthed shows my true colors. I am the prototypical product of the 1960's. I was a high school freshman in 1960 and I graduated from college in 1969. Words that burned my ears at age 13 rolled out of my mouth freely when I was 23. Although I began practicing yoga and meditation during that final year of the decade, it didn't seem to effect the language that had become part of my normal vocabulary during my years in college.
To a whole bunch of us back then, the actual bombs of the warfare seemed profane and obscene. Launching F bombs? Not so much. In fact, "colorful" language, like colorful clothing, long hair, and psychotropic drugs, was an integral part of a youth culture intent on breaking the monochrome norms of a mainstream society that appeared to be based on the false gods of materialism, competition, consumerism, environmental degradation and warfare. We chose, instead, to pursue a life based on the values of freedom, peace and love. For many of us, "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven" wasn't just something that we were supposed to chant in church on Sunday. We believed we were supposed to be living that way every day as best we could! And we were intent on having some serious fun along the way. As one of my guiding lights, the late Stephen Gaskin, put it at the time: "We're out to raise hell -- in the Bodhisattvic sense."
So how does swearing specifically fit into this picture?
In the English language, it really isn't such a leap, actually. The verb "to swear" itself takes us to the Gates of Zen, where words and concepts have only a minimal utility and irreverence can be the highest form of reverence.
How so? By definition, swearing can involve either uttering an utter profanity or doing what could be considered its exact opposite -- taking a sacred oath! WTF? One word spans the apparent chasm between the Sacred and the Profane. I swear! Take a look at the dictionary.
* I was hooked. It's been reeling me in ever since.
Although the translations of the four basic tenets of this traditional Mahayana Buddhist pledge vary, the central meaning is pretty clear: I vow to get my act together well enough to be able to really help out. Although I still space out and stumble all too often, my intention is clear, my aspiration is ongoing. Each day provides any number of opportunities to again vow to get my act together: to breathe, open my heart, let go of what "I" think -- and meet the next moment with great care and kindness. It's a Ceaseless Practice.
The fundamental foundation of the Bodhisattva Vow is, I think, quite clear. Yogi Jesus -- and the Beatles -- identified the bottom line. It is yet another four letter word:
* Here is one translation of the Bodhisattva Vow:
Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to transform them
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them
Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.