The Kalamericans Go to See the Teacher
Thus have I seen on YouTube
A great speaker, a great wise Teacher was to give a TED talk from the city of the many universities. Word spread of this, and tickets to the event were very difficult to obtain, such was the excitement generated by his appearance. He was known as a great Teacher of all from young to old, to all genders, able to heal political wounds, crosser of chasms beings had self-imposed. His wisdom was said to be all pervasive, his teachings good from start to finish, and able to be understood by all. With skillful means he could explain his teachings to all, regardless of his or her capacity, each able to understand as if it were only they who were being taught.
Many who came to see him waited outside the stage door, some taking selfies, some asking for autographs, some calling out their names, some silent with awe. They then all proceeded single-file through the metal detectors at the main entrance to the theater.
The Kalamericans ask for guidance from the Teacher
Before the formal talk was to begin, the audience members spoke of others who had come to offer talks, what they’d seen on other TED talks, either in person or on the internet, things that had been attributed to the Teacher others posted on social media, some genuine teachings, some not, and virtually all stripped of context, short sound bites shown on the various news sources the people had come to rely upon for their information, and what had been written about the Teacher on blogs of many types. Some felt compelled to explain their own beliefs and doctrines or the opinions of what they believed to be the doctrine of the Teacher, some thought it appropriate to complain about other Teachers, or about the doctrines that others followed, including those of their fellow audience members. Being unable to reach any consensus whatsoever, they asked the Teacher to give his answers as to what the correct teachings were, who the reliable sources of true teachings were, where to learn about the truth, and what sources to avoid, those sources they reviled as “fake.”
Before the audience descended into pure chaos, with each attempting to prove the validity of their own beliefs by speaking louder and louder, the Teacher quieted the crowd by offering calming gestures and with his seemingly irrepressible smile. He then spoke to the assembled listeners:
"It is proper for you to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what you find dubious. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; repeating something enough times does not make it true. Do not rely solely upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon soundbite; nor upon an axiom; nor upon conventional wisdom; nor upon a bias towards a notion that someone else has, nor upon another's apparent fame or talmt; not on what you read on Twitter, not on Facebook, not on Politico, not from Fox News, not from MSNBC or CNN, proclaiming, ‘This guy tells it like it is,’ because someone told you how to think it is, or that it validates what you’ve come to think from your exposure to all the media and from other who share your point of view, avoiding those who do not, eschewing the company of those with whom you presuppose you don’t agree. But yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are troubling; these things are censured by the wise, these things lead to harm and ill.’ So, abandon them. Abandon them!”
Greed, hate, and delusion
“What do you think,my friends? Does greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"
The audience was divided on this point. The Teacher continued, somewhat perplexed, but not entirely surprised due to his talent to read a crowd as if he possessed an omniscient eye.
“Overtaken by his greediness, he may kill, may steal even from those who have less, tell lies, and commit adultery. Then he tries to get others to do the same. How do you think this will work out, to his benefit or not?”
Well, maybe,” from one side of the room, and “Of course! You’d have to be stupid to think that isn’t true,” were the most unified responses the Teacher received. It seemed to the Teacher that the audience had separated, migrating to one side of the room or the other, depending on whom those opinions they agreed with most.
“And what do you think, mis amigos? Does hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm? "My friends, by hating, he may kill, steal, lie, and commit adultery. How is this going to work out for him
“Harm, unless he’s right about who he hates.” The audience was more united than previously, but still not totally in agreement.
“What do you think,friends? Does delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"
"For his harm."
“Yeah, delusions are bad.”
”If a person is under the spell of his delusion, he may do all the things you’ve said are harmful, and what may be even worse, he believes his own lies, and doesn’t even see that anything he does is harmful. Is delusion going to help or harm?”
The assembled seemed to agree on this.
Kalamericans, you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are harmful, and lead to problems,"Abandon them!”
The criterion for acceptance
“Kalamericans, do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon guesswork; nor upon an axiom; nor upon conventional wisdom; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been that’s been over by someone else; nor upon another's apparent fame or talent, nor on what you read on Twitter, nor Facebook, nor Politico, nor from Fox News, not from MSNBC or CNN or saying this politician is our Teacher. “Kalamericans when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not troubling; these things are praised by the wise; these things will not lead to arrest and prison, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' abide in them. Abide in them!
Absence of greed, hate, and delusion
“What do you think, my friends? Does absence of greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"
There was disagreement amongst the audience again.
"Kalamericans, not being greedy, and not killing, not stealing, not cheating on his wife, not telling lies; he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his benefit and happiness?"
"Yes, I guess benefit” came from one section of the audience.
“Of course” from the other.
The Teacher raised one eyebrow quizzically and looked over at his assistant Andy, who could only reply with a shrug.
“What do you think, comrades? Does absence of hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"
One member of the audience coughed uncomfortably.
"Kalamaericans, being not given to hate, and not doing hateful things, is this beneficial?”
Once more, the Teacher was met with silence.
“What do you think, Kalamericans? Does absence of delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"
"For his benefit!,” coming from all quarters.
The Teacher considered that he may have gotten the crowd back on the path.
“What do you think, Kalamericans? Are these things good or bad?"
“Good, great Teacher."
"Problematic or not problematic?"
"Vilified or praised by the wise?"
“Praised, of course."
"When you think about it, do these things lead to benefit and happiness, or not? what do you think?"
"They lead to benefits and happiness. That's how we see it. In most circumstances.”
“Therefore, what was said is this, 'Come my fellow Kalamericans. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon assumption; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been said by someone else; nor upon another's apparent fame or talent; nor on what you read on Twitter, nor Facebook, from Politico, nor from Fox News, not from MSNBC or CNN or saying this politician is our Teacher.
“Let’s have a brief recap. Greed, good or bad?”asked the Teacher.
“Can we get back to you on that?”
“Hate, good or bad?”
In unison, the crowd roared back, “Bad. Except in certain circumstances!”
“Delusion, good or bad?”
“We’re confused, can you use it in a sentence.”
Again in unison, “Depends!”
The crowd caucused amongst themselves, finally coming to the conclusion, “Bad!
The Teacher smiled again.
"Bad. Mostly. Depends on whether you can get arrested for it?”
The smiled dropped from the Teacher’s lips.
“Okay, how about committing adultery?”
“Bad...but only if you get caught, and if you do, deny it, and then you can pay someone off to keep quiet about it, and if that doesn’t work, deny it again.”
The Teacher glanced at Andy again, and again Andy just shrugged.
“Kalamericans, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things lead to prison; and upon careful consideration in your heart of hearts, these things lead down a dangerous road, you will abandon them!”
The Four Exalted Dwellings
“The righteous, who in this way is devoid of greediness and ill will, seeing the truth clearly, clearly comprehending and mindfully, dwells with the thought of friendship, with the great, exalted, boundless thought that is free of hate or malice for all of humanity throughout the wor
"He lives with the thought of compassion; he dwells in the world of compassion because it is good for all humanity, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, boundless thought of compassion that is free of hate or malice.”
“I don’t know about this ‘whole world’ stuff" someone yelled from the back of the room. “We come first!” Another chimed in with, “OK, I’ll be compassionate, but I’m not sharing any of my money to do it. And I don’t want anything going to a bunch of bums too lazy to work.”
The other side of the room tried to raise a rousing chorus of “Kumbaya,” but was unable to do so, having both the voices and the nature of a herd cats with a crying shepherd running in many directions.
The Teacher took on the delivery of an old-time country preacher.
“He lives with the thought of love for all people, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of gladness that is free of hate or malice. He lives with equanimity towards all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought that is free of hate or malice.”
It was as if the entire audience rolled its collective eye.
The Four comforts
“The Great Student, Kalamericans, the Great Student who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom comforts are found right here and now. Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill, a heaven or hell. Then it is possible that at the moment of death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.”
He continued, “Suppose there is no heaven of hell, and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and happy, can say, “At least I’m good in the here and now.’.
From the crowd came, “I swear to God there’s a heaven, and there’s sure as Hell a hell!”
"'Suppose evil befalls an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can it affect me who doesn't do anything evil?' Suppose evil outcomes do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.'
“It’s win-win-win-win, no downside, so long as you are hate-free, don’t act with malice and do harmful things to one another. Heaven or hell, no-heaven, no-hell, no matter, you experience the knowledge of a great life right here & now.”
“Hmmmm. Yeah? Really?” murmured the audience. The Teacher with his his omniscient eye regarded them as coming around, albeit slowly. He saw that their desire for freedom from their day-to-day lives hadn’t provided them any freedom, let alone peace.
"The followers of the Great Ones, my Kalamerican friends, who have a generous mind, a hate-free mind, an undefiled mind, and a purified mind, is one who experiences a wonderful life!” The Teacher saw that their desire for comfort, even from a place of greed and clinging could have a positive result. The crowd pondered momentarily, being presented with ideas that deep-down they knew were right, but were also seemed so far from what their day to day lives were like.
Then they responded surprisingly but with some reservation, “Okay!”
A spokesperson rose from the crowd. “What you say makes sense. A person who has a hate-free mind, an undeluded mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, can have a good life. But it’s not easy, Great Teacher. If we do it, and we’re back in with everyone else, who doesn’t live like this, we’re screwed!” The crowd now muttered in agreement to this statement.
The spokesperson continued, “But we’ll try it. We’ll try to pay attention to your teachings, and we will look to others who also follow them who can give us support when it looks as if we might backslide. Is that good enough? We’re just regular Joes, Joe the Plumber-types, not great spiritual beings, you know? But, what the hell, what have we got to lose? If it works out, that’s great. I think I can speak for all of us, and much to our surprise, your teachings do make sense. It’s like you point the way to someone who is lost or to carry a lamp in the darkness, thinking, 'Those who have eyes will see what there is that’s visible,'
The Teacher replied, “Excellent, excellent, my good friends. Well said, well said. But this teaching, as well as the others you may encounter from repeated hearing; tradition; rumor; what is in a scripture; guesswork; an axiom; conventional wisdom; a bias towards a notion that has been that’s been over by someone else; another's apparent fame or talent, on what you read on Twitter, Facebook, Politico, nor, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN or following politician who ‘tells it like it is, all these things, even what I’ve told you today can only be proven by putting them into action. Don’t take my word for it...but you’ll see it’s correct.”
The crowd gave the Great Teacher a rousing round of applause, even whistling their approval and yelling “Woot, woot.” The Teacher saw as if with an omniscient eye that some would follow the teachings faithfully, others would for a period of time, others would say they’re followers of the Way but their actions would prove otherwise, still others who will disregard the teachings altogether, even disparaging the Teachings. But the Teacher was also aware that these thoughts of the members of the crowd are as subject to change as much as everything else. One who agrees wholeheartedly today may backslide tomorrow, the denier of today may eventually lead a virtuous life. Even with the outcome of his teaching being any of these scenarios, he was still satisfied.
The Teacher and Andy packed their few belongings and prepared to leave the building through the stage door. As they did, they both heard a member of his audience say, “Now if only the other half of this crowd weren’t so stupid and agreed with this great teaching!”
The Teacher smiled at Andy, Andy smiled quizzically back. Andy said, “Teacher, they still don’t seem to get it.” The Teacher replied, “We’ll see how their actions speak, either because of or in spite of their words. They are Kalamericans, and their minds are changing, changing, changing.”
Andy nodded in agreement, despite his desire to smack some of the audience in the head. As a faithful follower of the Teacher, the Teachings, and who found support in followers of the Teachings, he refrained from shaking any of the audience members.
Thus have I seen on YouTube.