Buffalo, NY—Siddhartha Jabrini, is an area Buddhist who is considered a Bodhisattva—someone who has put off the attainment of “enlightenment” in order to help others transcend the material world and end their suffering.
Jabrini currently works as a spiritual advisor and janitor at the Fillmore Buddhist center, but one day will leave the world of striving and return to the monastery to spend his life as a monk in peaceful contemplation.
But for now, in this material world, he’s at the Aldi on Broadway with a tranquil smile on his face watching Jen, the cashier check out customers in line ahead of him.
Standing there with his weekly groceries—a small box of rice and three packages of ramen—Jabrini is fully in the moment watching Jen scan items, put them in the cart, process the payments and then thank the customers for their patronage. But Jabrini always didn’t strike such a placid detached pose.
For years he lusted after Jen. There was something about her scanning technique, her desperation and her sexy crooked smile that not only led Jabrini to ask her out several times, but to defile himself on a regular basis thinking about her. But those days are gone. Still, as she placed his rice and ramen in his cart, he recalled those quiet moments by himself with fondness.
Walking home against stiff WNY wind he felt blissfully alive as the cold air rushed through his flimsy jacket and bit at his skin. Still, as he moved down the street in muted silence he was thankful for the day. Near his apartment he came upon a couple of motorists in the thick of an argument— honking their horns, making obscene gestures and insulting each other’s mothers. Jabrini said a silent prayer of peace for the arguing people and remembered when his emotions used to run hot in disputes with others.
As he was about to enter his apartment Jabrini’s neighbor Rocco came into the building. Carrying bags filled with liquor and beer, the boisterous neighbor greeted Jabrini cheerfully and asked him if he would like to stop by for a drink—friends would be coming over shortly for a little get together. Jabrini thanked him for the kind offer but he declined. Once inside his apartment Jabrini smiled and remembered both the warm happy feeling alcohol brought and the headache in the morning.
He prepared and ate a little rice and as he was sitting down to meditate he could hear Rocco’s happy friends arrive through the thin apartment walls. After spending some time meditating Jabrini returned to the reality of his apartment and the party going on at Rocco’s. He again smiled and a few moments later had a startling revelation about what he had witnessed coming home today—Jen at Aldi, the arguing motorists and seeing his neighbor Rocco with liquor and beer—he was missing the suffering of everyday people. He was missing the trials and tribulations of the material world.
As the epiphany rumbled around in his head he heard a loud crash coming from Rocco’s apartment. He went over to investigate and to see if he could be of some assistance. Rocco answered and told him someone knocked a table over dancing. He then pulled Jabrini into the apartment and yelled to his friends, “This is Jabrini!” Everybody greeted him and someone stuck a drink in his hand . . . which he drank.
Then he drank another and another and he inhaled when the weird cigarette came his way. Soon Jabrini was dancing, laughing and having a good time. When the party ended he stumbled home. And as he lay in bed he started to think of Jen and reached down and began to fiddle with himself.
When he was done and drifting off, he thought to himself . . . ah suffering.