Saturday, October 9, 2010

Susan's Shusho Blog: The Tell-Tale Radio

When I was a little girl I loved to listen to the radio. So many characters came to life as I listened to The Shadow, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Lone Ranger, and many others.

I remember what The Shadow's voice sounded like: “The Shadow knows . . . heh, heh, heh ...” Fibber goes to get something out of the closet and bang, crash, boom . . . all the stuff in the over-packed closet keeps falling and crashing into the room.

One night, when I was about 10 years old, my mother put me to bed, kissed me good night, and tiptoed to the door. “Now get right to sleep,” she said.

As soon as I hear her footsteps descend the stairs I turn on the little white radio on my bedside table. The Lone Ranger is on. “Hi ho Silver (ta dum ta dum ta dum ) away!" This call to the sound of hoof beats makes my heart beat faster.

I listen as Lone Ranger and Tonto go through various escapades. The radio volume is turned low. Suddenly, above the sound of muffled hoof beats I hear my mother's steps on the stairs. I turn the radio off. I turn my body toward the wall . I am in fetal position with my eyes tightly closed.

My mother enters the room She comes toward my bed. She puts her hand on the radio. The radio is still hot due to the tell-tale tubes inside. “You have been listening to the radio”, she says in a stern voice. “Oh no, I have been asleep”, I say in my little white lie whining voice. “This radio was just turned off,” she says. “You are lying to me. Don't you ever lie to me again.”

This was a clear case of lying and being found out. It was a lesson in morality I have never forgotton. Not lying is a deep value for me.

In practicing the 4th precept, not lying, students of Buddhism struggle with questions about what is a lie. Are there times when you need to tell a lie to protect someone else? How and when do you lie to yourself?

Where is the warm little white radio when you need it?

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