Buddhism and the art of S2 maintenance

18th May 2007 at 01:00
Gregor Steele wonders whether 'find enlightenment then run away' is a valid philosophy for life

One of the many things to like about the school I recently left was its staffroom. At lunchtimes, subject boundaries were cast aside and conversation flowed freely (or freely between mouthfuls of cheese sandwiches) among scientists, historians and English teachers.

Sometimes we talked books. On one such occasion, an RME chap mentioned Buddha Da by Anne Donovan. He reckoned I would like it and lent me his copy the following day.

It was soon apparent that Donovan had not bothered to read "The Lazy Person's Guide to Writing a Scottish Novel". As an example, she completely failed to use the C word. Her negligence was again apparent when she not only displayed a lack of tacit admiration for psychopathic hard men in her writing - but forgot to include any at all. And don't get me started on the omission of intravenous drug users.

In truth, I found this story of Jimmy, a painter and decorator who becomes interested in Buddhism, to be warm, engaging and full of respect for its characters and their voices. The book made me slow down, to take notice of small things. Jimmy goes to the Botanic Gardens on a cold morning. Walking through the grounds, he starts to see the beauty of the frost crystals, the intricacies of leaves. He feels on the edge of enlightenment.

As did I with a troublesome S2 class. They had begun to resolve from a flailing, amorphous mass into likeable individuals. Even the boy with the "me against the world" body language of Winston from Still Game seemed to be settling down. Like Jimmy in the Botanics, I felt in harmony with everything around me.

Jimmy's setback occurs when he is bitten on the finger by a belligerent squirrel. Mine happened when S2 came in hyper one Wednesday just before lunchtime. Winston ended up in the corridor being talked to and I shocked the support for learning lady by swearing after the class had gone.

I will not tell you more of Jimmy's story. You know part of mine, though whether I would have found eternal harmony with S2 had I not chosen the path to education support in Dunfermline is a question I doubt even Rinpoche could answer.

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