“We can never get enough of what we don’t need”, said Zen Dog Duke as a benediction that would convert their lunch into a banquet of good intention.  “Your host is open to everything,” he continued, “and attached to nothing.”

“We’re millionaires,” said Maria Paz holding up her wine glass for a refill.   The Zen Dog liked to call her “Muy Purple”, or just MP for short.  “It’s Tuesday and we’ve been sitting at the pool all morning.  We’re having lunch and this wine is good.  A lovely Syrah this early in the day. Pure hedonism.  Nobody at this table remembers the last time they worked.  We’re fucking millionaires.”

“True dat,” said the Bobble Head Baby Jesus, even though the girls technically were on the clock. They were sisters and worked as a team.

“I just love to play in the pool”, continued the Bobble Head.

“You are a silly little guy”, said Vanessa, tickling the Bobble Head under his chin. She was recently rebuilt from head to toe at Hospital CIMA, all at the expense of her former Panamanian boyfriend.  An unattractive man by all means, but he had the ability to pay.  Vanessa at 36 years old was now in better form than her twenty-year-old daughter, and she knew it. She leaned over, rubbing her perky new breasts against the Bobble Head and said, “You have to tell us exactly how you do that little water trick that you do.”

“I’ll drink to that,” said Muy Purple raising her glass to toast everyone at the table.  Vanessa clinked glasses with the Bobble Head Baby Jesus. She was the older of the sisters, and owner of the Smoothie Station in Belen where she hired pretty young local girls to make all natural drinks. She would occasionally take the more ambitious younger girls with her on dates and introduce them to new friends.  Vanessa was also a belly dancer and did a show with Muy Purple.  They danced at The Lubnan Lebanese restaurant in San Jose on the weekends. The girls made a lot of contacts there, which lead to lots of pool parties and overnight stays at the Los Sueños Resort and Marina on the Pacific coast. They loved shopping at the duty-free in Panama, or Cancun. Still, the girls were longtime friends of the Zen Dog and Bobble head.  They had developed a level of confidence that made their frequent pool parties casual and comfortable. They thought of themselves as jet-setter sisters, friends of the philosopher boys,  but their lives were complicated.

“The reason we sometimes get into such a mess,” said Muy Purple to her sister across the table, ” is because we hang out with the wrong people,” she looked into her empty wine glass with a pout.  “These guys are the right people.”

“You are too kind,” said Zen Dog Duke. He leaned over to kiss Muy Purple on the lips and then raising his glass for another toast. “To trusting the universe.” He continued, “You are charming, my luscious Muy Purple. You are magical and tragically flawed. I can’t resist you. I need you because I love you.  Let’s enjoy this moment.” The Zen Dog had a reputation for being very generous. This was the type of company the girls lived for, and they were available by the hour, by the day or week.  They were happy to travel or sit by the pool.  The meter was always running.

The Zen Dog for sure was a philosophical man of means. He walked through his days with his friend and confident The Bobble Head Baby Jesus discussing states of consciousness and the reason for their being.  Zen Dog Duke was a modern-day Bodhisattva always engaged in each moment of everyday life. This was just another day in their luxurious life, and this was the kind of day when The Zen Dog was aware of Samsara, and the wheel was spinning its way back to Nirvana. He was present at today’s lunch and a witness to it. His mind was like a mirror reflecting all that was going on in the room with the girls, the wine, the music, and the Bobble Head but still, he managed to remain detached.  He was the Bodhisattva.

Bodhisattvas are the ones who see the depth and breadth of suffering and confusion most clearly, yet they place themselves right in the midst of it. “Engaged Buddhism” is the thing that you practice all day without interruption, in the midst of your family, in the company of your friends and in the arms of your lover. The way you walk, the way you look, the way you kiss and the way you sit inspires people to live in a way that brings peace, happiness, joy to every moment.

Vanessa and the Bobble Head both filled their glasses.  “I’m going to hypnotize you,” said Vanessa.  “So you think you can bewitch me,” replied the Bobble Head? “I think you already have me under your spell.”   Vanessa smiled and said, “that’s because you love me, and you love me because you need me.”  By all means, Vanessa was the more calculating of the two girls. Muy Purple was genuine and simple, bright and shiny.

“Ladies, my darling ladies,” said Zen Dog Duke, “please do us the honor of seducing us with a dance.” That’s when the Bobble Head Baby Jesus snapped his fingers and the room filled with the sound of a band from Beirut, Soapkills. Yasmine Hamdan sang and the girls began to dance. The Zen Dog and The Bobble Head Baby Jesus now sat on huge floor pillows with a Hookah in between them.  The Bobble Head again snapped his fingers, and the bowl was lit.

The girls danced. The Zen Dog and Bobble Head blew chains of smoke into the air that began to weave themselves into braids and circles.  Buddhist look at the world as a weaving of smoke.

The Zen Dog said to The Bobble Head, “Nirvana and Samsara are one.”

The Bobble Head replied, “The spirit can be made flesh, the word can be made flesh.”

Their approach was different but in many ways the same.  “The highest form of man,” said Zen Dog Duke “is not an exclusive state of mind that shuts out life.” The girls were dancing close to them, now kneeling on their pillows. The Bobble Head Baby Jesus took another hit from the Hookah. “The highest reality,” he said exhaling smoke, “is not being One because One excludes many, not nothing because nothing excludes something not Being because Being excludes non-being.” This is when the girls also smoke from the hookah and the talking stopped.

It was a Tuesday. They sat at the pool and they drank wine and had lunch. They listened to Soapkills, smoked from the hookah and they all curled up together on big comfortable pillows on the floor. Together they all fell asleep and napped until the sun went down.  The Zen Dog was the first to wake and prepared green tea for everyone.

Muy Purple opened her eyes, stretching and reaching out with both arms for The Zen Dog.  He gave her a hug and then a cup of green tea. The Bobble Head continued to sleep, snoring gently with Vanessa’s newly enhanced body wrapped around his own.  Muy Purple giggled, and then Vanessa opened her eyes. “I’ve got to pee,” was the first thing she said and everyone laughed.

Zen Dog extended a cup of tea to The Bobble Head Baby Jesus who nodded his head in gratitude.  “You, my luscious darling,” need to now get back into your bottle. “I know,” she replied. But I’ll be back when you want me again.”

Vanessa returned to the group and she too drank a cup of green tea. “We are going on a road trip,” she said.  “MP and I are driving down the coast, and then all the way to Bocas del Toro!”

“What fun!” Exclaimed Muy Purple.  “Back in your bottle, sweetie,” said Vanessa and Muy Purple converted into a plume of smoke funneling back down into her sparkling magical bottle.

Zen Dog walked with Vanessa to the door. “We will be away for a few weeks,” she said. “It’s a long trip.”  The Bobble Head Baby Jesus continued to snore gently, curled up on his pillow. “We are going to need gas money,” continued Vanessa.  “Of course you will,” said Zen Dog, putting something in her hand and kissing her on the cheek at the same time.

“We will be back,” said Vanessa.

“I know that you will,” replied The Zen Dog Duke.