A friend of mine wrote me the other day with a story I thought was informative. It’a a touch long, but I think it’s worth it; it’s lightly edited to make it fit.
A few weeks back my eldest daughter was having a bad day. It revolved around the typical teenage issues, which she generally doesn’t have problems with. However, I tried to comfort her by saying it was perfectly normal to feel the way she did because everyone wants to be liked and feels bad when they aren’t liked.
Well, that’s when my son chimed in (unhelpfully but innocently) “I don’t”
Now while this wasn’t exactly helpful while I was trying to console my daughter it is true. My son is amazingly centered. I’ve seen him been insulted directly and refuse to be baited and just shrug it off and be fine. So after I had resolved what I could with the daughter, I sought out my son and explained that what he said, while true, and admirable, was perhaps not helpful at that moment. But then I thought to compliment him on his evenness. That’s when I said he was practically Buddhist.
That sparked the question. “What’s Buddhist?” So I tried to explain how the Buddha taught that suffering is caused by desire, and that a lot of frustration is caused by our desires and expectations, and that if we surrender our expectations we actually are happier, less harried. I told him that even though we weren’t Buddhists we could learn a lot from this premise.
So to set up what happens next I have to tell you that recently my son has discovered Dungeons and Dragons, after he was introduced to it by his uncle. He has bought his own dice and is pouring over the manuals. All the conversation lately has been about critical hits, armor checks and saving rolls.
Well tonight we had a minor church event we had to go to. My son went early because he had some responsibility with our young men’s organization which was setting up. When I came later and met up with him his usual calm resolve was disturbed. He had said something to the other young men that had embarrassed him, and he was upset about it and upset that it had upset him. I said nothing. We had to sit as the program was about to start, and he usually works these things out. After a moment of silence he said. “Buddhist Saving Roll” and made a gesture like he was throwing dice. I burst out laughing. Right in the middle of church. He laughed too. People stared, and we quickly composed ourselves, but we smiled at each other and he was fine, and no longer upset.
After the event was over we joked about it. What die do you use in a “Buddhist Saving Roll?” Perhaps a twenty sided die where every face is a symbol of Mu?
At any rate, I was pleased that he had internalized the lesson and made it into a joke with his hobbies and D&D. I will never think of D&D the same way. I hope it becomes an inside joke between us.
And every time I’m frustrated with something, I hope I think “Buddhist Saving Roll” and just move on.