One City

little paul.jpg

I’m dressing up as Paul Stanley this Halloween. My six year old son Eli’s going as Gene Simmons, and my wife, Amy, as Peter Criss. Our nine year old daughter Lily is going as Hermione Granger. As much as we pleaded, she wasn’t interested in dressing as Ace Frehley.

Anyway, I’ve got myself convinced that Halloween festivities are an access point to Buddha Nature. Admittedly, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but bear with me for a moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh, who does know what the hell he is talking about, said this in his book, Being Peace:

“This capacity of waking up, of being aware of what is going on in
your feelings, in your body, in your perceptions, in the world, is
called Buddha nature, the capacity of understanding and loving.
Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world
will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against
nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity
of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.”

Smiling is very important.

So imagine us, marching through Park Slope, a Kiss/Harry Potter-hybrid family, watching the kids dressed as Michael Jackson, Kate Gosselin, men and women dressed as Sarah Palin and Dora the Explorer. And we’re laughing, watching the kids grabbing candy, marveling at the costumes, greeting our friends and neighbors.

And we’re not worrying about how we look, because we look ridiculous! And so does everyone else! And everyone is laughing, and enjoying the night, and being at peace. We’re loving each other and everyone we see, and we adults are giddy with the understanding of all the amazing causes and conditions that allowed us to be here, in this amazing present moment. The kids are just giddy.

We’re not worried about tomorrow, we’re not holding grudges, we’re not cheating and stealing and lying. Though the kids might be grasping here and there, when it comes to candy. But that’s what is, and that’s perfect. 

H. H. The Dalai Lama (in his book on The Heart Sutra) talks about Buddha Nature and how it’s discussed in the Mind-Only school:

buddha nature refers to our fundamental uncontaminated mind that, when untapped, is said  to be our ‘naturally abiding’ buddha nature, and when awakened, is said to be our ‘transformed’ buddha nature. This naturally abiding buddha nature is also known as natural nirvana, or natural liberation, because it exists naturally in all of us.”

I admit I’m inexperienced, but it seems like there’s a connection between these ideas: having fun, smiling, being present in the here and the now, and awakening our fundamental uncontaminated mind, which allows us to have joy and peace in this very moment.

Back to Thich Nhat Hanh (from Peace is Every Step):

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.
If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than
with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live
in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.”

Hence the Paul Stanley costumes. If it takes glam makeup to get me to smile with an awakened mind, I’m all for it. Photos to come!

Happy Halloween! 


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