One City

What would Sid do?

Before Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment at age 35 he was a
confused twenty and thirty-something looking to learn how to live a
spiritual life. He had an overbearing dad, expectations for what he was
supposed to do
with his life, drinks were flowing, lutes were playing, and the
women were all about him. Some called him L.L. Cool S. I imagine
close friends just referred to him as Sid.

Many people look to Siddhartha as an example of someone who attained nirvana, a buddha. But here we look at a younger Sid
as a confused guy struggling with his daily life. What would he do as a
young person trying to find love, cheap drinks, and fun in a city like
New York? How would he combine Buddhism and dating? We all make mistakes on our spiritual journey; here is where
they’re discussed.

Each week I’ll take on a new question and
give some advice based on what I think Sid, a confused guy working on
his spiritual life in a world of major distraction, would do. Because
let’s face it, you and I are Sid.

Have a question for this weekly column? E-mail it here and Lodro will probably get to it!

I’ve been living in my current apt for two years and this guy just moved in next door a little while ago. He keeps throwing these really large, loud parties every week and now I can’t meditate, sleep, or do much of anything when he’s around. I know Buddhism preaches non-violence but this dude deserves a punch to the head. What would Sid do? – Veronica

Buddhism does encourage non-violent action there are times when all of
us are put in positions where we just want to scream and do something
rash. That’s why the Buddha taught so extensively on patience. As
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has said, patience “…has a very practical purpose: it overcomes anger…Being
angry and wanting to be peaceful all of sudden doesn’t usually work. If
we’re about to blow up, the best thing to do is just sit there, settle,
breathe. The best technique may well be patience.” So before flying off the handle take a beat, touch base with yourself, and don’t give in to quick reactions.

that much being said, sometimes patience isn’t the only antidote to the
aggression you might be feeling. While the Buddha taught about not
giving into violent urges he never said “Let people walk all over you.”
On the contrary he taught us how to engage our world, even the things
that make us really angry, with an open heart and mind.

fact, I’d say it’s more compassionate not to grin and bear the
situation you face every week and instead confront your neighbor. I
think Sid would knock on the door, invite your neighbor over for tea,
and broach the subject in a friendly but direct way.

I’m willing to bet that your neighbor doesn’t even know the effect he’s
having on you. In the best case scenario he’ll say that he can host his
parties elsewhere or keep the noise to a minimum. In the worst case
scenario he’s mildly rude. In either scenario you were compassionate
enough to share the way you feel and that shows great bravery.

The meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught six points of
speech that would be helpful to keep in mind when confronting a noisy
neighbor, a lover, or even your boss. They are:

1. Speak slowly
2. Enunciate clearly
3. Listen to yourself
4. Listen to others
5. Regard silence as a part of speech
6. Speak concisely

I think if you create a spacious container to have this conversation in
(i.e. not in the mail room when one of you is rushing out the door) and
apply these six points of speech it will be hard to have a bad

In fact, who’s to say what will happen? Your neighbor might become a
friend and want you to come by. As they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Who
knows, maybe you’ll find a modern-day Sid there partying down too.

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