by David Lourie

One of my favorite themes in life is Human Folly, and one of the human follies. I enjoy observing most is what I call "Unsolicited Announcements." What is an Unsolicited Announcement?  Well, on the one hand, if I tell you something about myself, and if that remark arises as a natural response from our conversation, or from the situation we're in, then I see no folly in that. On the other hand, if I tell you something about myself which is not prompted by some "natural" cause, but which seems to arise from my own agenda, spontaneously and without any apparent connection to anything in particular, then that is what I mean by an Unsolicited Announcement.The funny thing about Unsolicited Announcements, which makes them so amusing to observe, is that they are
always untrue. In fact, in my experience it's usually the very opposite that's true.This has a lot in common with another principle of life, which is "The Accuser Is Guilty" - but we'll save that discussion for a future episode, when Bodhi steps into the pitfall of accusation..In Episode 8, what we see is  Bodhi  sincerely announcing his "love" to be of a wonderfully selfless and giving
variety -- which he believes to be true, but which of course is belied by his lack of empathy and connectedness with the object of his "love."    Therefore this Unsolicited Announcement turns out to be untrue, as usual.  In this case, Bodhi's head is so full with his own emotional outpourings and feelings that are welling up in him that he is totally on his own agenda, and he is not nearly as tuned into Dharma as he believes he is.All this inevitably brings up the issue of definitions -- what do we mean by "love" in this context?  I will quote from the excellent reference book, "A Handbook Of Tibetan Culture" (ISBN 0 7126 5663 4): "In a Buddhist context, love or loving kindness is defined as a mental factor characterized by a sincere wish that others enjoy happiness. 
According to this definition, love is one of the eleven 'wholesome mental factors'  categorized in the abhidharma literature. 
However, in the case of the four immeasurables, the word love is used as an abbreviation for 'great love' (mahamaitri in Sanskrit or byams-pa chen-po in Tibetan) which refers to an altruistic mental attitude that is unbiased in its love towards all living beings and is also spontaneous and natural.  It is said that such a spontaneous sense of universal or unqualified love can only arise as a result of a systematic meditative training."By the way, in order for you to verify the Principle of Unsolicited Announcements for yourself, you only have to think back to the last time somebody stood there and made announcements about themselves - which is what usually goes on a lot at parties. If you remember the dialogue accurately, and if you know the person well enough, then upon reflection you will be sure to see the irony in those remarks. So next time you're at a party, or anywhere for that matter, be on the alert for people's Unsolicited Announcements, and you will discover the truth of the principle for yourself.

- David Lourie

David Lourie is a cartoonist from Australia who kindly allows us to use his cartoon, Dharma the Cat, in our newsletter. His book of Dharma cartoons is published by Simon and Schuster
and is available through Amazon.


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