These days my 19 year old daughter and I are driving cross country on a round-about route to California from Chicago. I took the same trip 30+ years ago with my dad so the significance is deep for me as I show her the tiny fragments of memory I have from back then and we create a bunch more that will someday become fragments for her. As we make our way I try to guess what her fragments will be.
The radio doesn’t come in well in the middle of the desert, the epicenter of nowhere. We’ve talked and laughed our asses off and had a few audio books we’ve blown through but The Howard Stern Show has been the mainstay for us since XM radio seems to come in everywhere.
One of the interviews Howard did was with Neil Young who’s music makes me feel alive. I knew he was a conscious and cool guy but had no idea how much good he’s doing for the planet and our people. Howard seems to not be able to help himself with his crude and prodding questions. He wanted to push Neil into a rant about all that’s wrong with the world and our government and our systems and anything else he could set him off on but he couldn’t get Neil to go with him. Neil kept coming back to him with how we could help, add more love, make things better. Finally Neil shut him down entirely:
“Listen, I’m not going there with you so stop trying. Let’s talk about what we can do, not just complain about what’s wrong. That does absolutely no good and you’re helping noone. Let’s get to work. Their is more right than their is wrong, let’s show people. Let’s use our fame and status to model talking about solutions and teaching people how they can participate in what’s right. Join me, let’s refuse to talk about what others are doing wrong ever again.”
I loved him for this and it reminded me of one of the most profound teachings of the Buddha, the 32nd of the The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva:
“You undermine yourself when you react emotionally and grumble about the imperfections of other bodhisattvas. Of the imperfections of those who have entered the Great Way, don’t say anything — this is the practice of a bodhisattva”
This is extraordinarily hard for me but I’m committed. When I practice this my life is profoundly better.