Even though Gotama Buddha lived nearly three millennia ago, he was absolutely correct when he preached about avoiding tanha. Tanha means attachment, craving, and desire for things and people and is the root of most of our trouble. Having spent a lot of time with Buddhist friends and traveling in Buddhist countries, I have a more than passing appreciation for their belief system especially as it relates to tanha. However, even though I can teach this concept to my college students, I didn't truly understand its truth-until this Christmas season.

My journey to enlightenment began with a passing comment to my wife about getting a new TV for my exercise room, which in reality is just a spare bedroom containing a stationary bike, lamp, sewing machine, bookcase, and a twenty-five year old TV. I have believed for years that thirty minutes a day on the bike was necessary for a long, happy, and healthy life. I also credit this regimen for keeping me looking thirty-something.

However, it is more difficult for me now to get up at 5:30am and do my stretches, crunches, and ride for a half hour. I get bored watching fuzzy CSPAN or Spanish-speaking variety shows on a TV that is on its last antenna. It is so old that it has two dials for channel selection. My rationale for getting a new, inexpensive TV (I'm Scottish) was that I would be more disciplined with my exercise program if I could watch something that interested me. My wife also thought that it was a good idea and that was the end of the conversation-until a couple hours later.

I was busy on the computer when I noticed my wife quietly approaching me from behind, a sure sign that something was up. Little did I know that tanha had started to spread. She asked what I thought about moving the TV from the entertainment center in the living room to the exercise room. Then we could replace that one with a larger screen TV for the entertainment center. We had a 27" set encased in a large entertainment center, and it did look a little small enveloped in all that wood.

Since it was already December and neither of us had done any Christmas shopping, it seemed like a frugal and practical way of killing several birds with a single TV-getting me working out more regularly, improving the Feng Shui of the living room, and getting each other a Christmas gift.

Off we merrily went to get a 36" TV for the living room. It wasn't long before we were sold on one that was on sale for $50 off the regular price. I saved an additional $40 by taking it home after borrowing a truck from my son-in-law. The way I see it, I had saved nearly $100 already, and my Scottish soul was soaring. After lugging the TV from the entertainment center down to the exercise room, moving the old exercise room TV to the spare bedroom, and wrestling the brand new TV into the house and attempting to place it into the entertainment center, I discovered that it was an inch too wide and a half foot too deep for the cabinet. Bummer.

Back we went to exchange it for another slimmed down version, which we couldn't find. We went to several other stores and continued our search for a larger but not too large TV. However, our search was to no avail. To make matters even worse, if the 27" TV looked diminutive in the entertainment center, you can imagine what no TV looked like in that canyon of wood.

I wasn't going to allow reality to rule the day. Therefore, I began thinking. As I pondered my problem, I had a moment of Zen. The entertainment center consisted of three parts: the larger center section and two smaller triangular sections that were bolted to either side of the main section. If I moved the center section out from the wall and reconnected the side sections, it would give me enough room for the back of the TV. Then I could remove the stops for the doors of the entertainment center and get the larger TV into the remodeled furniture, which I did.

I returned to the first store to discover that they didn't have another TV like the one I had returned several hours earlier. The one that I returned was no longer in the computer as available for selling. Therefore, I went to another store and found a similar one, but they had to check to see whether it was in stock. That gave me time to cool my heels and recover from my adventure of searching and remodeling. While I waited, I looked at the displays of hundreds of TVs. That was a mistake. Tanha was again infecting every pore of my being. I watched Lord of the Rings (Lord knows which one), a football game, and an underwater adventure all on plasma, HDTV, LCD flat-panel,wide screen, or mega wide screens. Boy, technology has come a long ways in my short lifetime.

After being exposed to cravings and desire for the top of the line TVs, the salesperson returned to tell me that they could deliver my TV by midweek. You will be glad to know that it arrived and fit into its new home much to my relief. However, my ordinary 36" TV doesn't provide the same picture quality that HDTV or the plasma ones did. Besides, it isn't 60" wide.

I wonder how I could widen the entertainment center to fit the TV that I really want. Buddha was correct about one thing: tanha will consume you.

entertainment center

Finished just in time for some good news...