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Rodeo Clowns and Bodhisattvas

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

A month or so ago I asked members of our Sangha to identify a topic once a month about which they would like me to write. During a morning zazen and dharma discussion we conjured up rodeo clowns and bodhisattvas, so here goes!

Zen in everyday life is not a statement. Rather it is a process, an unfolding awareness equal to the rate of unfolding. Experience is the moving, “being,” through a sensory Dharma gate. However, it is the next step after perception, that I offer in this note--conception.

We know the phrase... beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which is a kind of cover-up. But, how about...beware of a sheep in wolf’s clothing, this seems to wobble our conceptual abilities. Yet both are attempts to distract for gain. The former for food and the latter to not be eaten, and both are essential to life.

Bodhisattvas come in different clothing that hide their functional importance. One such example is a flight attendant. At first perception the concept of an attendant is service along the line of handing out comfort. And, yet they are trained to protect one’s well-being...getting one safely from one point to another.

But, enter the clowns, rodeo clowns to be specific.

There have to be clowns. Here too, you see sheep but not the wolf. By the way, in rodeo parlance these men and women are called bullfighters. In the former guise, the clowns distract the audience from the background of danger, I read that more people are injured behind the scene with horses and bulls than riders in the rodeo ring. The clowns are colorful and funny, they entertain until the unfolding of “the ride.” The ride on horse or bull is only a matter of seconds. Then, a rider must travel safely from one shore, horse/bull, to safety behind the fence (other shore).

A large percentage of rodeo clowns have been horse or bull riders. In addition they are students of the conditions and variables of the moment including tendencies of dangerous bulls and horses, as necessary as in charting the eddys and shoals to deal with getting a rider from animal (one shore) to safety behind the fence (other shore).

Bodhisattvas have practice awareness inculcated in wisdom to be of direct assistance, and we are well served by their heart-felt efforts. Each moment we perceive, conceptualize, and spawn consciousness. Teachers walk alongside watching, listening, encouraging and suggesting.

In one interview with a rodeo clown/bullfighter, he said we are always between the rider and the bull, we never leave the ring and mostly go unnoticed until needed.



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