I Called Him Sneaky Pete
On one of the days we were stuck in Kathmandu, we walked Kora around the Buddha Stupa in the square. I would say at this point, not knowing when the airport would re-open following the crash of the Turkish airliner, I was feeling trapped and desperate to get out of Nepal. The recent earthquake which has not only destroyed a great deal of what we saw there, killed untold numbers of those who were our Kora mates, and increased infinitely the suffering of all beings in that part of the world; it has also brought back to me those same feelings. I realized at the time that I wasn't just trapped in Kathmandu, and that it hadn't started when I arrived there, but was rather the condition in which I live, and have lived my entire life. It is called Samsara. It is the suffering caused by grasping after life, of discrimination. I like ice cream, but I don't like eggplant. I love you, but I hate him. This is discrimination, and it is the cause of not only all of our suffering, but also every war that has ever been fought. The rich understand, and encourage this. It is profitable. Nepal is a political pawn between East and West. It is unforgiveable that the suffering of those gentle people in Nepal has become a political point.
On that day walking Kora, I noticed a young man with no legs, a beggar. There are four entrances, one on each corner of the square. Some how as we walked, I noticed that this young man somehow got himself positioned at each point so that I could see him. This was not easy as each side of the square was at least 200 feet long. How could he get himself there so quickly. I began to think of him as Sneaky Pete. When we were done, we grabbed a cup of coffee from the vendor as had become our custom. We sat on steps near where we would exit and return to our hotel. As I sat I looked up and there he was. Our eyes met again, and Pete hopped as quickly as I can walk across that square to a place right in front of me. I liked him. I believe he liked me. Two men as different as night and day. He young, but without legs. Me old, but with the legs of a cyclist. He a poor beggar with virtually nothing. Me with enough to buy my was to Nepal. It was a juxtaposition that was not lost on either of us. I gave him a few rupees. He hopped off as if he had scored a goal in the World Cup. Tonight I am wondering what his life is like now, and know that he, like me, understands impermanence.