Lost Chapter from the book Enlightenment Guaranteed. The Dharma of El Dharmarado Tijuana Interview, Part One
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A few months ago I had the rare opportunity to interview the great Mexican Zen master, El Dharmarado. I drove down to Tijuana and met El Dharmarado in a small bar, which was located down a remote dusty alleyway. Surprisingly, the place was packed with bikers and scantily clad women. The bar was thick with smoke and reeked of tequila. I spotted El Dharmarado, sitting alone at the corner table. He wore a sombrero and a technicolored poncho. He had a cigar wedged tightly between his lips. He squinted as he surveyed the bar, his thick black mustache twitching upward when he spotted me walking toward him. He stood up and greeted me, then offered me a shot of tequila. I passed on the liquor and ordered an ice tea from a waitress that wore a studded leather bikini. I turned my attention back to El Dhamarado. He knocked down another shot and then blew a puff of smoke that obscured his face, and said, “Alright, then. Let’s get this party started.” I removed my list of questions from my briefcase, placed the voice recorder on the table, and pressed the record button. The following interview is the result.
Me: How are you today
El: Aaarrg, not bad, not good. He slammed the shot glass down on the table.
Me: Thank you for that Zen answer. Why are you teaching Zen in the West?
El: To save all sentient beings in the West.
Me: Do you think people in the West need to do more to help each other?
El: Absolutely, people in the West are completely deluded and self-absorbed. Never in the history of humankind has there been a culture that is built around the idea of “self” and using every external concept, object, and bullshit achievement to justify its existence. You have a society of winners and losers, all fooled into believing there is a “self” and that the “self “can be happy if it has enough money, power, and friends. But also the entire culture has been fooled into living a life of slavery, while believing they are free.
Me: What do you mean when you say, “Fooled into a life of slavery”?
El: What I mean is, you are taught, from the time you are an infant, the harder you work, the more stuff you will have, and the happier you will be. This is a lie perpetuated by the “man” to make you work like a dog for nothing, so you can die with a bunch of useless objects, without wisdom or dignity.
Me: You are telling me westerners are really slaves, believing themselves to be free men and women?
El: Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. You are very wise, young cockroach.
Me: How can three continents, America, Europe, and Australia, be fooled?
El: There are two parts to this answer, young cucaracha. One is there are no people alive who remember what true freedom is. This slavery has been passed down from generation to generation and never questioned. Second is education. Education serves two purposes: one is brainwashing children into believing they are free as long as they obey the laws, and the second is higher education ensures that there will always be debt. They think it is okay to pay wealthy institutions to learn how to be a good slave to make more money than the other slaves do. Hahahahahaha, nobody questions it. The Buddha’s first teaching was to question everything.
Me: How can Buddhism and meditation help free our western culture?
El: Ah, young cockroach, you ask such good questions. Meditation is a good place to start, because westerners never examine their minds, question reality, or seek contentment from anything other than money. Spend a week or so in silent meditation and everything you have been taught from the time you were a child will fall apart. You will see that everything experienced is in the mind. Nothing external can bring happiness or sadness. Only the mind’s false sense of understanding reality causes one to feel happy or sad. (El Dharmarado held up his shot glass.) Are your mind and this glass the same or different?
Me: It is clear and round.
El: Great answer, young cockroach. Most westerners would say they are different because they do not understand the mind's relationship with reality. If they answer the same, then they don’t understand the nature of reality, and the interdependent nature of their own perceptions. Your view, young cockroach, is based upon the groundlessness, which means you are ready to explore the truth that the Buddha taught to his disciples.
Me: Thanks, El Dharmarado. How would you start a new society?
El: Any answer I give would be restricted by the limits of what is conceivable within my own mind. However, it would have to begin on an individual basis; each person first would have to be willing to meditate and find the foundation of reality, which by the way is groundlessness. Once each person has that realization they will be more willing to live in a cooperative society.
Me: How would this society function?
El: Arrrg, my vision would be a society built upon the foundation of cooperation and selflessness, without any centralized authority controlling everything. No group or person would be in charge, and there would be no ownership of property. Life is impermanent, so why bother with ownership? You are going to lose everything when you die. Leaving money and land to family only creates dynasties that eventually take control. All resources would be shared, and everyone would partake in the duties to maintain the infrastructure. There would be no more colleges. Everyone would have the opportunity to choose a career and be trained and participate in an internship. Each person can change careers as many times as needed because circumstances are always changing. Flexibility to change careers as individuals age is necessary. As long as a citizen is active in a work guild, they are provided a place to live, healthcare, food, and are taken care of when it is time for them to retire.
Me: Sounds like a monastery without the religious trimmings.
El: Excellent observation, young cockroach, very much like a monastery, without a hierarchy structure. If it has worked for monks for over twenty-five hundred years, it will work for everyone.
Me: What is your role in bringing about this change of view toward society?
El: I am a simple Mexican monk. I don’t want to change the world. I want to relieve the suffering of all beings. I ask everyone to examine what is the true nature of reality and their role in it? Do you want to create pain and suffering or do want to end it? Every being has Buddha nature; not everyone realizes it. I know it is there. I know for a fact that even the worst diablo can become enlightened.
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