BUPKES

“Harry, you’re my hero.”

“Really, Boss?”

“You went against the big bear that’s been coming around our house. It’s already come three times, bent down the fence in many places. But last night, Harry, I saw you run towards him, bark and snarl, and that bear turned around and fled.”

“It came back later, Boss. I would have chased it away again only you closed us up in the house.”

“He’s too dangerous, Harry. Do you know how fast he can move? One swipe of his paw and you’re dead. If he comes back, stay away.”

“Like Aussie”?

“Exactly like Aussie. She stayed right by the house and let you fight alone. This morning she broke away again.”

“She’s on her way to Washington. She wants to be Donald Trump’s dog.”

“Do you miss her, Harry?”

“Of course, I miss her. She’s my teacher. She gave me my new dharma name.”

“What’s that, Harry?”

“Bupkes.”

“She calls you Bupkes?”

“I’m so proud. I’m not Harry anymore, I’m Bupkes. She says it’s a great name.”

“It means you’re nothing, Harry.”

“Aussie says that in Zen being nothing is very important, that it’s something to aspire to. I’m a natural, she says.”

“Harry, this is what comes out of studying with someone who doesn’t know anything.”

“She says that’s what makes her a natural teacher. A natural teacher for a natural bupkes.”

“Zen is not about being nothing, Bupkes—I mean, Harry. It’s perfectly fine to have character, personality, aspirations, ideals, and passions. The point is not to get attached to them, see? The point is not to think that they represent the only truth, the only reality, see?”

“No, Boss. Awesome says—”

“Awesome?”

“That’s Aussie’s dharma name, Boss.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“Awesome says that that’s who I am: no character, no personality, no aspirations, no passions.”

“Who’s the one who chased the bear the other night? Who’s the one who showed courage and tenacity?”

“Awesome said it was stupid.”

“Aussie is a phony teacher. You know, Harry, Jews had their phony teachers or messiahs. They called them False Messiahs. Bernie, of course, loved false messiahs, he said the most interesting messiahs were the false ones. He never got particularly uptight around maverick Buddhist teachers, either; he said that Shakyamuni Buddha was a maverick teacher.”

“I didn’t know the Man, but Awesome says he didn’t get upset about too many things.”

“He was pretty passionate about things when he was younger, but as he got older, Harry, he found more things to laugh about, or laugh with. Back to your name, Harry. You can’t be Bupkes and she’s Awesome. In this house you’re siblings, you’re just as good as she is, probably a lot better.”

“But I’m not like her, Boss. She has so much confidence, she knows what she wants, she’s not afraid of anything—”

“Except the bear, Harry.”

“She’s the teacher, she’s the leader!”

“Harry, it’s sometimes hard to be with someone who has so many gifts. You feel like you’re always in their shadow, that they get all the light while you’re ignored, that they have a halo and you have—”

“Bupkes. And soon she’ll be Donald Trump’s dog. I mean, wouldn’t you rather hang out with Donald Trump than with Bupkes?”

“I have a feeling that Aussie will come back real soon, Harry.  I have a feeling she’s missing you already.”