Saturday, August 18, 2007


The trouble with margaritas, of course--at least to me--is that they taste too much like a less sweetly offensive sort of lemonade. So on a warm evening you tend to gulp them down like lemonade, with alarmingly unlemonade like consequences. The worst thing that results from an overidulgence in lemonade is the kind of frequent trips to the bathroom that those ubiquitous TV commercials warn us men about. Margaritas can lead at best to a pleasant--though definitely UnBuddhist--buzz; at worst to a nasty hangover the following morning.

Well, I'm mentioning this because I had a couple of them last night at sunset, at the celebration of the 60th birthday of a good friend at her Laguna Beach home, overlooking the elegant palm trees and the spectacular ocean view from above the trendy Montage Hotel. Not a bad place to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and enjoy a couple of Margaritas, you'll agree. Not a bad place to enjoy the company of a diverse group of people and exotic fare fresh from the barbeque.

Ah, but I did pay the price this morning, waking with a brain dulled by tequilla and a body somewhat heavier for the intake of too many spicy shrimp hors d'oeuvres and slices of grilled brisket. I can, however, recommend what turned out for me to be a useful remedy: a forty-five minute sit in the crisp, fresh air of the early morning, as the sun begins to rise. Birds sing, hummers hum, the distant ocean waves crash on the shore... Pretty soon, with careful attention to the breath, the creaks and groans begin to drain out as the body wakes. Pretty soon, the effect of those margaritas starts to dissipate. Pretty soon, the mind remembers the pleasures of focus and concentration.

I know, I know, a real Buddhist wouldn't have woken with a hangover in the first place. But given the undoubted error of indulgence, it's good to know that the practice offers a fine way to atone.


carly said...

P: Following your link to a brief description of Buddhism, I found this:

"The Buddha based his teachings on a frank assessment of our plight as humans: there is unsatisfactoriness and suffering in the world. No one can argue this fact. Dukkha lurks behind even the highest forms of worldly pleasure and joy, for, sooner or later, as surely as night follows day, that happiness must come to an end. Were the Buddha's teachings to stop there, we might indeed regard them as pessimistic and life as utterly hopeless. But, like a doctor who prescribes a remedy for an illness, the Buddha offers both a hope (the third Noble Truth) and a cure (the fourth). The Buddha's teachings thus give cause for unparalleled optimism and joy. The teachings offer as their reward the noblest, truest kind of happiness, and give profound value and meaning to an otherwise grim existence. One modern teacher summed it up well: "Buddhism is the serious pursuit of happiness."

....which among other things, says, suffering is indeed at the base of its aspirations, and hope and unparalleled optimism is an essential ingredient of its thrust.

And question arose. It became apparent to me again this morning, that after the assumption that life is a sickness which needs a cure, the approach by steps taken, to peace of mind, asceticism, and renouncement, lays out a plan with such certain and specific results, that the person faces the kind of expectancies which have an undeterminable probabilities factor - which itself arouses doubt as to what can be attained. Especially for people in a chaotic environment. Therefore guilt will accompany every margarita and minor or major infraction as a reminder that attainment is a long, long way off (and for the weak, a realization that perhaps the effort will end in vain). I know you stress the positive aspects despite such considerations. But it seems only a select few will actually reach, the forecasted effects and nibbana. For the rest, that which is beyond the daily practice of enjoying life, the real unconditioned state, there is only a constant, unending striving. No? The whole thing is a system requiring a lot of effort without determinable results, literally a pursuit.

The Wandering Lover said...

I don't think that you're not a "real Buddhist" because you have a drink now and then. Not many can say that they follow the precepts 100% of the time. :)

PeterAtLarge said...

Carly, I'm sure you noticed that I wrote more in the spirit of poking fun at myself--and at Buddhism--than out of contrition for a couple of margaritas. And yes, the pursuit of "true" happiness is certainly just that: a pursuit. The reward is in the process, not the goal. Cheers, PaL

carly said...

P: Yea, I got the joke. A little truth said in jest. Just farting around with some logic. And reactions.

TaraDharma said...

found your blog via Dharma Bums. I recently had my own experience with tequilla...whoa. I blogged about it.

I appreciate the non-judgemental stance of buddhist practice. Even a couple of margaritas are a chance to learn and experience the nature of existence!