The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Blair Hurley


The Tibetans are not vegetarian. This is because nothing will grow on the high arid mountain plains of Tibet. They live on Yak. On the other hand, the Japanese priests may drink wine, and the monks may marry.

As for the American practitioners, all bets are off.

Most drink; most are not celibate; some eat meat, some don’t. The rules are fluid; always have been. The Americans want to be what they’ve always been, just with a special extra sheen of wisdom. They want to sleep in on Sundays and drink red wine out of too-full glasses. They want bowling and television and sex. They want the thundering flavor of a cheeseburger. Just with a little extra Zen. It’s not a religion, it’s a way of life, it’s a philosophy, some say now. Are they right? It might be the only religion where there are no Gods, where there are no promises of heaven or righteousness or a benevolent consciousness evaluating your actions. The only promise, the teachers say, is the promise of change. The promise that the things you love will fade; the trees will crumble quietly to ash; the world itself will fall away, and emptiness will reign.

Duhka is the word. It’s the term for the feeling of agony when you realize your own nonbeing.

About the Work

Blair Hurley

Blair Hurley is a Boston native and has short stories published in Descant, The Red Rock Review, Quality Women’s Fiction, The Best Young Artists and Writers in America, and elsewhere. A graduate of Princeton University with her MFA from NYU, she is currently at work on a novel.

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