Going in the truck along Ali’i Drive to walk Molly Poodle, I saw a woman with her dog on a leash, headed toward our stretch of road by the old Outrigger Hotel. I avoid other dogs on our walks because Molly gets so excited, she jumps and flips and barks thunderously, and becomes hard to handle. So, I kept driving further along to another point on our route. I parked and walked up the hill to the top of Ali’i, and came back down. I headed toward Kahalu’u, where I would turn around and go back. Up ahead, I spotted the woman and her dog coming toward us. I turned around and hurried back to the truck, before Molly could pick up a whiff.
Now, I had to make a decision. I was hungry and fed up with the whole situation with Molly and other dogs. I considered driving home and telling my wife that we had a pleasant walk and leave it at that. No one would know. Molly got about a third of her normal walk, but she would survive. Nobody would really know the difference, and without knowing, they wouldn’t care. But, I knew.
I started the truck and turned the opposite way from home. I drove up along Ali’i Highway to Hokuli’a. I parked the truck and took Molly for the rest of her walk, along the highway. When we finished, we got back in the truck, and I drove home.
I knew in my heart what was right and I made a choice to do what was best for everyone. I could have rationalized a decision to serve myself. But I would know. We create our world with these kinds of decisions, these choices that we make many times every day. By serving the truth, we wind up living in blue sky mind.
When Buddha was dying, he talked to his students about whether he should leave instructions for the good of the order. Buddha told them to light their own way. “Be a lamp unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and not on help from the outside. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Look for salvation in the truth alone. Do not look for assistance from anyone besides yourselves.”
We know the truth. We decide, moment to moment, whether we will hold fast. So much gets in our way to obstruct our vision, our resolve, our thoughts, words, and actions. Mostly, according to Buddha, it is grief that gets in our way. We create grief, regret, and self-doubt and loathing by giving into cravings that come from our thoughts and feelings, from our bodily sensations.
It is like that old conundrum: If you drive up to a red light at three o’clock in the morning and no one is around, do you stop? It is up to us what we do–even when no one else sees us.
We have to decide for ourselves. Are we going to serve the truth and ultimately be happy or do we serve our cravings, desires, and bodily sensations–and suffer? If you look at it, it is that simple.