This is a recent (Aug 2012) picture of me. Pay no attention to the glare in my glasses. or the quality of the image, it came from a webcam.
I took this shortly before I left for my Lodge meeting in August. As you can see, I wear a handlebar mustache. I also wear a bow tie on occasion. I started wearing the handlebar on a whim a little less than a year ago, before I ended up working in retail.
Once I started working in retail, though, I learned something: My mustache makes people happy. More than once, someone has stopped me and said that it makes their day, or that it makes them smile. Little children smile, laugh, and giggle when they see it, whispering to each other and pointing in excitement.
While seeing other people’s happiness at my appearance is great, I can’t help but think that there is more to it than that. The reason, though, is something that ties closely to my faith.
See, I have taken the bodisattva vows. These are four vows that have a large number of rough discrete statements, but the same essence. The version that I follow comes from the Mountain and Rivers Order/Zen Mountain Monastery liturgy book, which is as follows:
Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.
The Dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.
The Buddha Way is unattainable; I vow to attain it.
Without getting too much into it at this point, I have taken a vow to work toward the relieving of suffering for all beings. This is part of the Bodhisattva ideal, to which I am striving.Just don’t ask my wife how I’m doing on that score, because I’m not doing too great, but it is an ideal.
Anyway. Part of the ideal is to relieve suffering where ever in the world we find it. As a householder, I live in the world and have to temper my goals with the realities of real life and responsibilities. As such, I have noticed that my mustache brings happiness to people that I don’t know and will likely never see again. My koan of the moment is, does this minor creation of happiness equate to the relief of suffering?
I think it does.