Buddhism and Beer


JJ said he wanted to practice more detachment and he thought I should practice that too. There is an element of his culture that values this concept, so I have to respect that as a valid ideal for him. India certainly has a ancient tradition of the elder or the sage who removes himself from daily life in order to gain more spiritual understanding, even to prepare themselves for death in many cases. Here is the problem. I never got the feeling that he was talking about the same kind of detachment I understand from Buddhism or Hinduism. I understand detachment as the idea of stepping back from your habititual, pre-conceived notions of the world and detaching yourself from your own dogmas. All the evidence I had from his was that he was much more interested in the western, misconstrued idea that detachment means removing yourself from your feelings, denying them and disengaging from people or life to relieve the stress of relationships. I can see where it comes from and how it can be understood like that even in a very Hindu way:

In the classical case where Arjuna presents his dilemma to Krishna on the battlefield and collapses, the first thing that Krishna does is to recall to him the nature of the Atman. Krishna says: ‘You are grieving about something that ought not to be grieved about, neither these kith and kin of yours nor you as Arjuna are everlasting’. ‘Go about in the world’, says Krishna, ‘fully conscious of the fact that you are the Atman, and therefore you can never be tarnished by these feelings of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, friendship and enmity. Be completely detached as if you were an actor on the stage. An actor does not hesitate to ‘kill’ his bosom friend who is playing the part of the enemy on the stage’. krishnamurthys.com

We can find a kind of stark, idealistic detachment in every spiritual and/or ancient tradition from the Old Testament to the codes of the Samurai. The thing is, these are battlefield ideals. Contrary to what Joan Jett might think, love is not a battlefield. This is indeed how I have heard every person who has spoken of detachment define it, except the Buddhist monk I used to visit on occasion when I was younger. I can see how one can take from this parable that very Western view: In colloquial usage, to say that a person is detached can be derogatory, implying that the person is not willing to become involved with others or that he or she is neither approachable nor sympathetic. –enabling.org/ia/vipassana

So, lets look at a modern example from someone who’s life is not dedicated to fighting wars, but to being a spiritual leader. What does the Dalai Lama have to say about detachment?

Does this look like the Dahli Lama is flipping us off?

“The practice of developing or cultivating equanimity involves a form of detachment, but it is important to understand what detachment means. Sometimes when people hear about the Buddhist practice of detachment, they think that Buddhism is advocating indifference toward all things, but that is not the case. First, cultivating detachment, one could say, takes the sting out of discriminatory emotions toward others that are based on considerations of distance or closeness. You lay the groundwork on which you can cultivate genuine compassion extending to all other sentient beings. The Buddhist teaching on detachment does not imply developing an attitude of disengagement from or indifference to the world or life.”

We have to see the Buddhist idea of detachment in association with it’s other great teaching – Loving kindness. In a way, I suppose I have taken JJ’s “advice” and have been trying to detach myself from my own habits and dogmas. I think I have more of an affinity for the Buddhist ideas and traditions when it comes to the subject, but I can say for certain, that it wouldn’t hurt either of us to practice a little loving-kindness.

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The Cascadia Grill

I tend to avoid anyplace that has the word ‘grill’ in the name because it usually means that they won’t have much on the menu that I like. Cascadia has been around for a while and they used to have fantastic breakfasts with lots of veggie options. I thought that for breakfast I would be safe. When we arrived, we found out that they are under new management.

They have kept the decor essentially the same and it is a warm, comfortable place with large windows that look out onto the busy street. But their menu has definitely changed. Meat, meat, meat. If you like burgers, this is the place to go.

I decided on the breakfast burrito for myself. Maybe my bias is showing, but it wasn’t a Quality Burrito burrito. It was alright, nothing special. I counted a total of four entree’s on the dinner menu that were vegetarian, but I understand their burgers are fabulous. There is a large selection of meats aside from beef, including pork, lamb and chicken, which might appeal to those of you who are like me: not vegetarian and not a fan of beef either.

There were, however, some bright spots – desert, milkshakes and beer. They have a large, varied and interesting selection of beers as well as Irish bands to accompany it on many weekends. The Buren Boys are a regular gig. If I were you, I would skip breakfast and go directly to beer.

The Cascadia Grill, corner of 4th and Columbia St. in Downtown Olympia.  360.628.8731

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