The rat race to nirvana

The teachings of the Buddha are supposed to provide an alternative path to the rat race. But it seems to me that in Bhutan, the path to nirvana itself has become something of a rat race. Seems like I’m missing something.

Have you ever been elbowed out of the way while standing in line for a ‘wang’ or blessing? A small-built elderly woman with a grandchild on her back may normally pose no threat to you, but it seems all bets are off when it comes to wang time. Have you gone to pick up a lam to attend to your prayer ceremony only to find him hijacked by someone more pushy or influential?

We are all Buddhists, but it seems we aren’t in it together. It’s each one for himself or herself. Very rat-race like. I thought it was the capitalists who say ‘opportunity doesn’t knock twice’ or ‘he who hesitates is lost’ etc etc. Apparently our Buddhists are firm believers too. Watch out for the sharp elbows.

Someone I know attended a mega-blessing in the East and was one of the fortunate few who even received blessed containers of vicks ointment. Not entirely shockingly, a co-pilgrim pilfered it from her bag within a matter of minutes.

Another capitalist thing is the concept of hoarding. It’s a thing frowned upon but done when one can. For your own benefit you stock up more rice or other commodities, much more than you need, even though others are left with nothing. In our Buddhism, the concept of ‘wang’ or blessing, seems to have fallen victim to the concept of hoarding. To save one’s soul, greed has taken over and the ones who can afford it are willing to grab all the blessings.

While I remain confident that those left without blessings will do just fine, I do wonder about these hoarders of blessings. How does the benefit of these blessings weigh up against the very un-Buddhist methods of obtaining them?

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