One or two weeks ago, I was sitting under a tree, smoking a cigar.
When out of nowhere came a young man, one of those cool guys with a hoodie and a charming smile: “May I sit next to you?”, he pointed to a second bench. “Because this is my Bodhi tree.”
Naturally, I said yes and offered him some gingerbread. I had bought more than I wanted to eat anyway. Because the large packs are much cheaper than the small ones. It’s like that with a lot of products, have you noticed? As a consumer, I always feel a bit cheated by this.
He offered to share his kebab, which I gratefully declined. Because honestly, how would you share a kebab in pita bread? That’s just gonna be one huge mess, making the rodents in the field happy.
“You know what a Bodhi tree is?” he asked and there I was, caught in my ignorance by the young fellow. He explained something about awakening and awareness and enlightenment and salvation and that Buddha Siddhartha Gautama had found all this under a Bodhi tree. Well, you can discover all kinds of things when sitting under a tree like that, I can confirm that myself.
Somehow it was lovely to listen to someone talk about Buddha in Swabian. Even if I didn’t understand everything. People think that German sounds harsh because they once watched a Nazi film. That’s like judging English based on “Full Metal Jacket”. (Which really does sound better in German.) But German has some rather soft and melodic dialects where you can listen to people for days on end, no matter what they are talking about. Swabian, Swiss, North and South Tyrolean.
And he was not overbearing in any way, not like those who want to hit you with all 84,000 teachings for the path from Samsara to Bodhi, as you experience with other Buddhists. Actually, he talked more about his own life, which I will not reproduce here, because that ain’t nobody’s business. I have a rule: When I sit somewhere and I’m writing and someone comes along and tells me his life story, then I’m allowed to use it. Because honestly, what do people think I’m doing when I’m loitering in the park with a notepad and pen? But if I’m just munching on gingerbread to attain at least the physical shape of a Buddha, then really no one can suspect that there’s a roving reporter sitting under the Bodhi tree.
The young man said that I looked like a spy, by the way. Which I understood even less than the thing about the four noble truths, because we were sitting on a hill above a small village in Baden-Württemberg. There’s really nothing to spy on around here.
It was November and no pleasant temperature, but suddenly there were people coming by every five minutes. Walkers with dogs, walkers with wives or husbands, walkers who said hello, walkers who said nothing, walkers who stopped and also talked about their lives. It reminded me of the movie “The Trouble with Harry”, where the paths of all the protagonists keep intersecting on a hill above the village. Have you seen that one? It’s a Hitchcock movie, but a funny one. Some people are afraid of Hitchcock because they think his films are cruel or something. Not at all. Even mild-mannered Buddhists can enjoy it.
Then he drove me home, because the Buddhist had a car and I didn’t. And he told me to go to the kebab store downtown and tell them that I was a friend of Yalçin. That would get me a free kebab.
I should really pick that up soon. After all, kebabs don’t get any better with time. They are very un-Buddhist that way.
- Me, finding enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
- For those thirsting for knowledge and hungry for enlightenment, there is much more religion and philosophy on this blog.
- And if you are interested in Buddhism, you may enjoy my walk through Nepal. Oh, and did you know that I met the next Dalai Lama? And coincidentally, Timo the Taoist was also from Swabia.