Archive » December 2, 2010
By Terri Schlichenmeyer, Contributing Writer
The roads are filled with idiots.
People cut you off all the time, as if your car is invisible. They drive too slow or too fast, cruise along leisurely in the left lane, and don’t use turn signals. Tailgating is common, as is the tendency to brake hard for no apparent reason, running red lights, sitting at green lights and turning illegally. Grrrrrrrr.
So how can you remain calm, keep your fingers together (ahem), and avoid road rage? Why not take a page from someone who makes his living in a vehicle? Why not try what you’ll learn in Dharma Road by Brian Haycock?
The weeks following a job loss are scary ones, and Brian Haycock was getting desperate. Willing to do anything to pay the bills, he took a job as a taxi driver and learned – to his surprise – that he thoroughly enjoyed the work.
Haycock, you see, practices Zen Buddhism, which he says helped him in his job. Zen, he says, is “simple.” At its core, it’s a “program of morality, meditation, and mindfulness” that can help you see the world as it truly is. It’s easy to do but takes practice and “[y]ou get out of it what you put in.”
Buddha’s first teachings are that life is suffering and that nothing lasts forever, two tenets that go hand-in-hand. Your suffering may be a minor annoyance or a major event – but in either case, it won’t last. The way to end suffering is to relinquish attachments to impermanent things, and since nothing lasts forever, everything is impermanent. That includes the red light that never seems to turn green.
Practicing Zen can keep your blood pressure down by teaching you to be patient with fellow drivers and everyone you meet during your day. Haycock writes about some of his more challenging fares, including the businessman who mocked Haycock and instantly received bad Karma, and the inevitable visitor who complains about the weather. Zen, he says, helped him deal with both.
And speaking of complaining, Haycock says that by practicing Zen, you’ll be more optimistic, more appreciative, and more attuned to the world around you. You’ll learn to pay more attention to even the most mundane activities. You’ll be able to deal with adversity and road rage from other travelers. You’ll become a better driver.
Buddhism teaches its followers, among other things, to expect the unexpected. That’s good here, because Dharma Road is like nothing you’ve ever read before.
By weaving Zen teachings with personal stories of cab-driving, author Brian Haycock gives readers a basic overview of the main ideals that Buddhists and Zen followers embrace. While Haycock’s literary voice is calming and Zen-like, readers will also appreciate seeing that Haycock is still only human: This book holds more them one story of a fare’s Bad Karma, well-deserved. If you’re looking for humorous cabbie stories, though, this isn’t your book. Dharma Road deserves contemplation. If you’re ready to leave road rage behind on your Path to Enlightenment, drive out and get this book first.
Dharma Road by Brian Haycock
c. 2010, Hampton Roads Publishing , $16.95 /$19.95 Canada, 241 pages