by David Lourie

You could say that this episode is all about Bodhi's perennial question, "Which way is up?" When Bodhi uses the word "up" in this cartoon, he gets his Darwinism all mixed up with ideas about rebirth and spiritual development, none of which involves an evolutionary hierarchy.  As a result of this typically intellectual attempt to meld unrelated ideas
without any real understanding, poor Bodhi serves up a conclusion that has as much conceptual integrity as a
scrambled omelet.  Thus the cynical query by Siam and Dharma does indeed raise the deep philosophical question: if life is a turning wheel, and the realms of rebirth are arranged in a circle, where is the hierarchy? Rather than giving you an easy answer, like you probably want, I will put the exercise to you, dear Reader, to see if you can perceive a "spiritual hierarchy" by ranking the four mentalities involved in this comic strip: 1) The Buddha, 2) Bodhi, 3) Dharma, and 4) Siam.  I will give you a sampling of each mentality for you to evaluate,
then you decide for yourself which way is up.


  1. The Nature Of Dukkha: our lives are impermanent, ever changing, and involve various forms of suffering.
Examples of suffering are physical and emotional pain, loss, remorse, illness, old age and dying. Unsatisfactoriness includes such things as not getting what we want, and instead getting precisely what we don't want, or losing something we had strived hard to get, or losing to someone else who got an unfair advantage, etc..
2) The Cause of Dukkha is our various forms of craving and aversions, or feelings of attachment and feelings of rejection. These factors in turn arise from ignorance, which is considered to be the root cause dukkha.
3) The Cessation of Dukkha occurs with the cessation of our delusions, attachments and aversions.
4) The Method Leading To The Cessation of Dukkha is called the Eightfold Path, which comprises: 1) right View (a profoundly penetrating realization of dukkha, karma and the dharma), 2) right Purpose [sometimes translated as right Thought] (beneficial and selfless), 3) right Speech (truthful and beneficial, not divisive, harsh or misleading), 4) right Conduct (kind, compassionate and helpful), 5) right Livelihood (not harmful), 6) right Effort (striving with dedication but without personal ambition to stay on the Eightfold Path), 7) right Mindfulness (awareness is kept entirely on feelings, thoughts, conduct and events that are in the present moment) and 8) right Concentration (mental focus).


1. Non-directing: Life comes at you from all directions.
2. Non-ceasing: Life comes at you at all times.
3. Non-impeding: Life comes at you even if you see it coming.
4. Non-judging: Life is less impressed and less disappointed with you than you are with yourself.


1. Impermanence: In life, the only constant factor is change.

(Continued on page 13)