Coolness – from Dharma the Cat

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I grew up in an age when the word “cool” was just beginning to make its way into the language of pop culture.

In the decades since then I have come to understand the meaning of the word in spiritual terms, from a Buddhist perspective.

A person is `cool’ when he or she is free from pressing desires (‘grasping’ or ‘craving’).  Such craving always produces dissonant emotions, which is a state of ‘uncoolness.’

An uncool person squirms with needs, waiting for a chance to grab another coffee or cigarette, or a chance to break into the conversation.  Thus he is in a state called “senseless agitation,” like young Bodhi in the cartoon above.

On the other hand, a cool person is free of cravings and repulsions, and is thus in an empowered state of equanimity.

Being cool and detached is not being cold and uncaring.

I’ve noticed that when I’m feeling cool, and requiring nothing from the situation, it seems to clarify my thoughts.  In this state I tend to respond to other people more in depth, instead of my head being too full of my own agenda to be completely responsive to others.

To me, ‘coolness’ means more compassion and less self-absorption.  It’s the opposite of being heated (like hot-headed).

Interestingly, the ultra-cool Buddhist who has realized nirvana is often referred to as “fully blown out,” referring to the flame of craving he has extinguished within himself.

David Lourie is a freelance writer and documentary film editor.  He has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts from UCLA, and taught film making for 2 years to graduate students at the UCLA Film School, as well as teaching at several film schools in Australia, where he now lives.  He won an Emmy Award for a National Geographic documentary he edited in 1999, and he’s received several international film festival awards over the years.  He also writes the international comic strip, “Dharma The Cat – Philosophy With Fur,” published by Simon & Schuster Australia, and by magazines in 28 countries, translated into 18 languages:


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