Adventures : Zeph Tales (8)

Continued from

Do You Believe in Balloons?

13202_colored_balloonsSometimes, Zeph wrote the most ridiculous things in his journal in a bid to be spontaneous, in the (fat) hope that he could by some ‘karmic coincidence’ come up with something wonderful and original, without actually going through proper spiritual practice to realise any truth. While some of the ridiculous things written still remained pretty ridiculous, some develop to make some sense. An example was when a crazy question came to his mind – ‘Do you believe in balloons?’ He decided to write that down… to see where it led to. And this was the outcome: Do you believe in balloons? What kind of a question is that? Funny? Ridiculous? Serious?

Balloons come in all shapes and sizes and colours.
Some go with a bang while others shrink and wither away,
often resulting in shock and disappointment.

Remember as a child,
when you were given a balloon.
Your parents tie it to your wrist,
afraid that you might lose it to the sky.
You hopped along happy at having something so wondrous.
Determined to keep it forever, you bring it home,
tying it to your bed post before going to bed.

When you open your eyes the next morning, it has shrunken in size.
You cannot understand and sadness you feel.
The slow death of the beloved.

Or do you remember as a child,
when you bought a balloon in the shade,
and walked out into the hot sun, and it went POP just like that.
The sudden death of the beloved.

Balloons must and will die.
Because I have faith in that.
I have little faith in them.
I don’t believe in them,
that they can bring me lasting happiness.
Painful lessons I’d learnt.
But this pain lived made me a stronger person.

As a grown up,
how many balloons do you still keep?
How many more do you still buy?

Balloons come in all shapes and sizes and colours.
A slick jet black sports car is a balloon.
A big house is a balloon.
All the things you possess are balloons.
Your loved ones are balloons too.
And all balloons either go with a bang,
or they lose their form with time.

Your balloons might outlast you,
so you might still want to play on.
Play – go play! It’s REALLY okay!
Just remember the nature of balloons.
Treasure them then,
from moment to moment,
but without attachment-
because the next moment,
they might just pop.

But what you should always remember,
is that you too are a balloon.
And so am I.
I am a balloon.
And I don’t believe in balloons.
Do you believe in balloons?

Zeph thought, “Seeking true happiness is thus looking for something that is NOT like a balloon!” What kind of a statement is that? Funny? Ridiculous? Serious? Nirvana, AH! Beyond all shapes and sizes and colours, that which pops not and loses not its form, because it is beyond form. It’s funny, but ‘Nirvana’ is simply the technical name for a ‘non-balloon!’ Zeph slapped his forehead and sighed! ‘Why do I keep thinking of these crazy ideas? Smart Alec! Idiot!’ Zeph the unenlightened human balloon – was almost bursting, full of what was almost total nonsense, and with what was almost pride about this rubbish! Disgusting!

The next day, Zeph came across a ‘The Sinister Man’ (‘El Hombre Siniestro’ by Antonio Prohias) comic strip, where the title character gives a boy a balloon, which he received happily. The Sinister Man then uses a catapult to burst it, before slipping it into the back pocket of another boy. The one with the popped balloon turns around, and sees the catapult sticking out of the other boy’s pocket. As they clash in a fist fight, the Sinister Man grins and walks away.

Isn’t this the story of our life? Isn’t it hilarious? We pin too much hopes on balloons, while these hopes constantly cast the impending shadow of fear and disappointment – since these hopes can be easily dashed. Wasn’t life quite okay before the boy had the balloon? Did attachment to the balloon come before or after having it? Is a balloon worth fighting over? Is it sensible to have so much aversion to the loss of a balloon? It’s greed and hate at play – that arose from delusion, not seeing the way things truly are – that they are ‘sinister’ tricks we fall for. Is the Sinister Man truly evil, or was he a great teacher to the boys? Who is really the elusively sinister one? Who is the real cause of suffering? Him, or us? (Incidentally, greed, hatred and delusion are the roots of all suffering in Buddhism.)

A special note on balloons… Releasing balloons in the air might feel ‘romantic’ or joyous, but it is environmentally harmful as balloons are made of non-biodegradable material. After being released, they will inevitably shrink or pop, and fall somewhere, where it does not rot but accumulates as garbage, possibly harming animal life too. Balloons are indeed overrated! I really don’t believe in balloons! You don’t really either!

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