Lose to the 0-5 Tennessee
Titans? It's karma, man.
Or at least I thought it was. Just to be sure, I checked
with M aharagama Dhammasiri, president of the Washington Buddhist
Vihara on 16th Street NW. It turns out that karma is a complicated
"One cannot say for sure at once that something happening
right now is because of karma,"said Bhante Dhammasiri.
("Bhante" is an honorific meaning "monk.")
"It is like planting something. When we do something
like planting a seed, it takes time to grow up the tree or
plant. And it takes time to have fruit from that tree."
Karma is cumulative. If Snyder is suffering now, it's not
because he went through four head coaches in five years --
it's because of things he did in a previous life.
I asked Bhante Dhammasiri whether people in positions of
power had special responsibilities when it came to karma.
He said they did: "Sometimes when it is about a ruler,
then this karma has interactions. It affects the other people,
He said that in terms of the Redskins' troubles, "this
may be the karma of the owner of the company, the karma of
the players and the karma of the people who watch."
Uh-oh. The people who watch? The fans might be responsible
for a playoff bid slipping from the team's grasp ?
"Don't you agree with me?"
Yes, but . . .
"You don't like that," he said, laughing.
No, Bhante, I most certainly do not.
"When something happens to us in Buddhism, it teaches
us to blame ourselves."
This may be why we'll never have a Buddhist president. Bhante
Dhammasiri, 57, is originally from Sri Lanka but has lived
in Washington for 20 years. I asked if he had ever been to
a Redskins game.
"No," he said. "We are Buddhist monks. We
don't go after the worldly pleasures." I think a Skins
game this season would be all right, then. There's nothing
pleasurable about witnessing our team's inability to convert
a third down. The monk picked up on my proprietary language.
"The suffering comes because we think this is mine,"
he said. "This is my team. If they lose, this means I
lose. The idea of 'mine' gives you suffering. When you don't
hold on to that, there is no suffering, because it is not
mine. If it is mine it must behave as I want, but it never
That is so true. On Sunday I was screaming at the TV, "Give
the ball to Portis! Give the ball to Portis!" But did
Bhante Dhammasiri offered a memorable description of the
effect of karma on our lives: "We are what we were; we
will be what we are -- that is how we say this."
Yes, but what we were was a perennial Super Bowl contender.
"Everything is impermanent," Bhante Dhammasiri said.
"When we are happy, we think we are always happy. But,
no -- happiness will come, and sadness."
He said that the wheel of life spins continuously, fluctuating
between gain and loss, fame and infamy, happiness and suffering
. . .
"The more you are attached to something, the more you
are going to suffer," he said. "You are so attached
to the team, that is why you are suffering when they are defeated."
Suffering, yes, but as I said earlier, also experiencing
a small amount of joy. I even have word for what I'm feeling:
Snyderfreude. I'll probably pay for this in a future life.