My wife Carol and I are on a mountaintop in Bhutan. It's 2009, and we are having tea with His Eminence Neyphug Trulku Rinpoche. He's the ninth reincarnation of Terton Ngawang Dragpa, one of the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century.
I have an important question to ask him. I tell him that I know Buddhism teaches that life is suffering. What advice, then, might he offer Chicago Cubs fans, whose team has not won a World Series in more than a century? I explain briefly who the Cubs are: a popular baseball team, playing in one of the great American cities, nonetheless unable to win a championship since 1908. He pauses a moment to think. "Well," he says, "you should not be too sad. Think of the joy that you have brought to other teams."
This is decidedly not the advice that I want to hear. I personally have suffered for almost 65 years as a fan. I have sought answers to my suffering in my own religion, Judaism, to no avail. And now, on a mountaintop near Paro, Bhutan, thousands of miles from Wrigley Field, I am being told to take heart because of the joy I'd brought to the teams that have caused my suffering. Let's just say that this was a mite overly Buddhist for me.
But I hit upon an idea. I would encourage Rinpoche to adopt this team of mine. Perhaps then he could appreciate my anguish, perhaps even offer help. I told him that I wanted him to become a Cubs fan and, to mark his conversion, I gave him my Hebrew Cubs hat. He accepted it graciously, and put it on at a rakish angle. We'd bonded. And now, like so many of us fans, who have died over and over again, this gentle soul now on his ninth life would come to know true suffering.