The Full Story
Buddha, Bullets, Booze & Bullets
In this section, Ven. Am Koe Beighley will be sharing excerpts from his manuscript, Buddha, Bullets, Booze, and Bikers: A Monks Journey From Chaos To Clarity Please join us on this journey of personal exploration to what it means to be fully human, fully alive, and live on the Buddha's Path.
Bookshelves the world over are filled with millions of “how to do” books, manuals, and essays. They range from the esoteric to the practical. They have titles like, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “How to Overcome Your (Feelings, Anger, Losses, etc.)” or “Electricity for Dumb People”. They are descriptive in nature and typically take the reader on a step-by-step journey from a beginning point to a place of completion regarding some project, whether the project has to do with people, places, or things. Now, we can even do a computer search on any given topic and learn how to “do” something. Recently, the hot tub that my wife and I own wouldn’t heat above 76°. I went online, found a manual regarding our particular unit, and discovered that one of the reasons was an inline pressure switch. I ordered one at the local pool and spa store, went back online for instructions on how to “do” an installation, and completed the project in about 30 minutes. Books and the internet are amazing resources regarding how to “do” just about anything, and I’m grateful to have those resources at my fingertips…literally.
This is not one of those books.
This book includes nothing regarding telling you what to do.
This book is obvious in its absence of certainty.
This book is not about making you feel more comfortable with what you know.
This book is not about finding a firm place to stand you can call your own.
This book has everything to do with how you “BE.”
BE comfortable with uncertainty.
BE intimate with not knowing.
BE fully present in each and every moment.
BE involved in the mystery of self and others.
BE at peace with your inner and outer worlds.
BE an influence to end suffering wherever it exists.
The concept will be befuddling to many, because you may think, “I know who I am. People have been telling me all my life who I am, who I was, who I could be, should be, would be…”if only.” And even if I don’t like any of what I’ve been told, I just do what I think is right for me, and I become something else.” One of my ex-wives (yes, you read that right) once told me, “David, you seem to have a need about every five to seven years to completely reinvent yourself.” No kidding, at the time I took it as a compliment. But, because I was continually evaluating and adjusting my definition of success…I kept changing the “shoulds” in my life, compounding my confusion with more confusion, making more and more debilitating mistakes, with worsening consequences. I was so busy “doing” to myself that I completely lost sight of who I was really…at my core.
We have a tendency, in our culture, to play a fantastical game of masquerades. “Let’s see…what mask should I wear today. What is expected of me at the office, at home, at school, with friends?”
We change our masks more often than we change our clothes. We have become articulate and masterful manipulators of our perceived personhood to the point that we lose sight of our original selves…the “we” we were meant to be at our very core. And in the Buddhist tradition, if we do not at some point in our karmic lives, grasp a sense of our original self, we then go through eons of struggle and pain, lacking peace and serenity.
It is this absence of peace and serenity and the journey of gaining a sense of internal peace that prompted the writing of this book.
“Buddha, Bullets, Booze, and Bikers” is a story about the many “me’s” and all I did in my futile attempts to “do” all the dualistic right and wrong, black and white, yes and no, this and that things to become some sort of me…all ending in abject failure. It is about the crises I have faced throughout my life; the spiritual, physical, intellectual, moral, addiction crises that have been pervasive throughout my time on this rock.
This book is also about understanding, rather than redemption. It is about an understanding that everything any one of us needs, at any point in time, including me and you, is already present if we will allow for it to rise up within us. There is nothing to do. There is only one thing to BE. True to your original self. As a Buddhist koan asks of us, “Show me your original face before your parents were born.”
This is not an undertaking I would ever think about going alone. I am, among other things, a recovering addict. And all of us addicts have one thing in common.
We lie to ourselves, to others; lie when we don’t even have to lie, lie just because we can.
There are others I will invite to participate along this literary journey, including my compatriot Monks and Dharma Teachers at the Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple and Zen Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan and our new endeavor, The White Sands Zen Center. With their help, and the help of others, this book will hopefully aid in ending the suffering of one other person along the way and encourage within them the bravery that already exists them to “BE.”
Ven. Am Koe David Beighley Su