Not terribly original, but I did write it a few years back.
With the holidays coming, I thought we all could use a laugh.
The 2000th Annual International Nirvana Achievement Competition
It was an exciting day today at the Shamshara Insight Convention Center, hosting the 2000th Annual International Nirvana Achievement Competition, with competitors from all over the world striving to be the first to achieve Nirvana and the coveted Golden Lotus Award.
Participants and observers are crowded into the main hall, with many teachers struggling to keep their students under some modicum of control. “Oh, My Bhuddha!” squealed one student from Japan, pointing in delight at this year’s favorite, Taijo Onosaka. The student was promptly smacked on the back of his head by his teacher with a gentle admonition of “Stillness. He puts on his robe the same way you do.”
On the floor before the event most contenders were trying to keep their focus, but a few and their instructors were willing to be interviewed.
“I really think Reggie needs another ten to fifteen years of intense training before competing on this level,” his coach confided to me. “His anapansati is solid, and his dana are strong, but dhamma is his big weakness – he gets wrapped up in the details and forgets to just *feel* the flow of the moment. But he was determined to try for the big leagues this year.”
Regan Kramer didn’t share his teacher’s concerns. “Nirvana can happen at any time,” he told me. “You can be a novice of three days or an adept of thirty years; it doesn’t matter. I’m feeling confident that this will be my year.”
“The International Nirvana Competition is no joke,” said Raisa Zasve, a more experienced rival. ”Buddha’s are made here. I wouldn’t even think about entering with less than twenty years of practice behind me.”
Anyone can enter the International Nirvana Competition; skill level is not a requirement, but most novices are discouraged from entry by their teachers for fear that losing in such a large and publicly recognized venue will shatter their confidence and make them quit before realizing their true potential. Most competitors have corporate sponsorship, although a few have managed to attend under their own finances.
While some entrants listened to their teachers and sipped at green tea for some last minute strategic planning, Marcus “Coyote” Artowsky from Alaska moved through Qigong postures with smooth calm. Marcus is one of three competitors who don’t come from a clearly defined school or have an instructor to guide them – “Coyote” is entirely self-taught. “You can’t worry about the competition,” he said. “All you can do is focus on yourself and do the best you can.”
When asked about his training regimen, Artowsky shrugged. “There isn’t much to do in Alaska, so I’ve put in a lot of hours for this. Not as many as some of the heavy hitters like Tadeo over there,” he said as he nodded at the Spanish Meditation National Champion. “But I figure I’ve got a decent shot at winning, especially since I’ve learned how to capture discreet moments at my job cleaning honey-buckets.”
As the first gong rang to summon everyone to their places, the anticipation jumped. Observers hustled off to find seats in the stands, many groups holding flags and banners, silently held aloft to cheer on their favorites. As mats, cushions and benches were placed by the competitors on the floor, one entrant, Kaif Isoni of New York, appeared to have a nervous breakdown, having forgotten his reed mat at home. He was escorted to the first aid station, a shaking mess of tears, repeating “my mat! My chakras are all wrong! I need my mat!”
Judges paced the floor between the entrants, and Olaf Svensonn of Iceland was bodily removed on a stretcher after having ingested too much of a relaxant. He resembled a 6’ – 6,” 350 lb. blob of silly putty as technicians struggled to get his inert form to the first aid station, his fingers dragging on the floor.
Once everyone settled in, the gong rang again and the massed competitors bowed once, twice and then a third time towards the front of the room. Another gong rang through the hall and the race was on. Anticipation was high and everyone stared at the motionless entrants, most seated on their knees or cross-legged, but a few frozen in various positions of yoga.
In 3 minutes and forty-two seconds, Mae Hogensworth of South Wales, aged 93, discovered Nirvana and came up as the winner, closely followed by Ignatius Oshari, trailing behind by 4 seconds. The gong rang, signaling the end of the competition and startling everyone out of their various meditative states. One practitioner literally fell from his complicated, one-legged yoga stance to the floor, the surprise having knocked him off balance.
“I am the Zennest!” Mae cried victoriously as the cherished Golden Lotus belt was handed to her. Several entrants stalked away in disgust while others crowded around the great-grandmother, offering their congratulations.
Mae was later disqualified when it was revealed that she had fallen asleep rather than achieved Nirvana.
Ignatius Oshari of Australia was then bestowed the Golden Lotus Award and the 27 year old nearly cried. “I want to thank my mom and my teachers for all their support ,” his sniffled. “And to everyone out there who thinks they can’t achieve Nirvana, keep reaching for it. You’ll get there if you keep trying.”
Ignatius revealed his plans to use his newly acquired fame to open a chain of health food stores and meditation training centers across the western coast of Australia.