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Friday, January 9, 2015

Buddha Never Drove a Car

After meditating for weeks under a bodhi tree, the Buddha taught that

     1.  Life means suffering
     2.  The origin of suffering is attachment
     3.  The cessation of suffering is attainable
     4.  The path to the cessation of suffering is the eightfold path 

 I agree that the origin of much of our suffering is attachment.  But I am not sure that the cessation of suffering is attainable, especially if you are one of the 1+billion people who drive a car.

I once owned an olive green 1970 American Motors Hornet.  It was my first car.  I bought it after my senior year at Appalachian State for $800 using college graduation money my parents gave me and a loan.  I drove it to and from the mountains during graduate school.  It was the car that Melanie (my wife) and I drove away from the church on our wedding day and during our first year of marriage.

But, I never loved that car.  I was never attached to it.  Yet, I suffered.

It had windshield wipers that wiped the windshield based on the speed of the car.  So, in a drenching downpour or a blizzard, I would have to drive 55 miles per hour in order for the wipers to keep pace with the storm.

It had an alternator that constantly lost its connection to the battery and to this day I have nightmares of a red alternator light glowing in the dark on a lone deserted road.

It did not have air conditioning and it was designed in such a way that the heat from the engine would blow directly into the car if the windows were rolled down.   So, in the summer, you were actually better off with the windows rolled up.

The defroster had a mind of its own and would decide to work only after I had driven up interstate 77 with my head hanging out of the window on those cold, frosty winter mornings of January 1977 (the coldest winter in 100 years) on my way to work.

When I sold that car to a wheeling, dealing, car dealer (famous for his "We're Dealing!" slogan) for $200, I felt that I had received the better deal.  And I never turned to look back at it on my way home.

So, in a way the Buddha was right.  Unattaching myself from that car ended a lot of suffering.

Since that time, I have owned other cars.

A Chevette that suddenly lost all power (especially on interstate highways) and no mechanic on earth could find the reason.

A Cutlass whose paint slowly started developing spots that grew larger and larger.  The week after I had it repainted, it was wrecked beyond repair.

A Buick whose check engine light glowed and glowed and glowed; aggravating me nearly to insanity.  Then, the horn began to blow on its own, for no reason, especially in rush hour traffic, making the check engine light seem like a minor problem.

And the list goes on.

If the Buddha had driven a car, maybe he would not have had to meditate so long under the bodhi tree to discover the origin of suffering.


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful blog. I feel so inspired really. I really enjoy reading your blog
    Rear Windshield Wiper

  2. Thank you for your comment, Rebecca. Please feel free to share this with your friends.


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