Wednesday, September 28, 2005

26. reporting in

Reporting in last night, was a very positive experience for me. But greater than that was to listen to everyone else report in. Quite a powerful activity. Jason reported he benefitted it greatly to me personally. Everyone is so wonderful, so amazing, so inspiring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

25. Borrowed Body

Borrowed Body by Valerie Mason-John (aka Queenie, aka Vimalasara) is a first novel by a WBO order member. This harrowing autobiographical novel traces her experiences in fosters homes, reuniting with her physically abusive mother, meeting her African half sister, a return to foster homes, and incarceration. It reminds me of City of One, Angela's Ashes, All Over But The Shoutin', The Glass Castle, and all those horrible childhood memoirs. Also The Painted Bird, a lovely miserable novel of abuse on children during World War 2.

Borrowed Body too becomes bewitching once you adjust your tolerance for observing suffering, another finely written book about personal suffering that will most likely not get the recognition is deserves because most people must avert their gaze.

Horrified anxiety is my mental muscle lactic acid. I try to increase my tolerance by watching horrible movie and reading these kinds of books. To transform suffering into understanding and empathy for others is a nobel quest to me. It is the goal of Avalokita to end all suffering, as preposterous and impossible as that may seem from a limited person. The psychotherapy group I lead has recently drifted into the topic of whether you can love your enemy, they are all Christians. I convert the thought into the boddhisattva idea, the aspiration of alleviating all the suffering. You try, that's the point.

I tried to drive my car like the Buddha. But it's just too hard. I have too many habits that involve harsh speech, unskillful thoughts. So I gave up, frustrated. My mental states got even worse when driving. So I have returned to my goal, but attempt to eliminate the frustration, because the impossible seeming goal is better than not having the goal. If you do not get discouraged, the goals of spirituality are helpful. At least it is so for me.

I recognize Vimalasara's suffering, and thank her for sharing it publicly in such a well written book.

Additionally as therapist, I define behaviors, defenses, coping skills, and appreciate the delicacy and the closeness in which she observes her own behavior. And the honesty. I can only guess at how accurate and close this was to the experience, because it's a novel and not a memoir. But it must be rooted deeply in her experience. This is my kind of novel. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

24. Confession

A Confession

... whatever evil, cruel act was done by me previously, I will confess it all before the Buddhas. Whatever evil I have done by not attending to my parents, by neglecting the Buddhas, by neglecting the good; whatever evil I have done by being drunk with the intoxication of authority or with the intoxication of high birth or by being drunk with the intoxication of tender age; whatever evil I have done, bad thought, bad word, by an act badly done (or) by not perceiving a mishap; whatever evil I have done by the application of foolish reasoning, by a mind dark with ignorance, under the influence of an evil friend or by a mind distracted by impurities, under the compulsion of sport or enjoyment or through the influence of anxiety or anger, or enjoyment or through the fault of unsatisfied wealth; whatever evil I have done by my associations with ignoble people, by reason of envy and greed, or by the fault of guile or wretchedness; whatever evil I have done through failure to gain mastery over my desires by reason of fear at the time of approaching troubles; whatever evil I have done through the influence of a flighty mind or through the influence of passion and anger or through being oppressed by hunger and thirst; whatever evil I have done for the sake of drink and food, for the sake of clothing, for a reason involving women, through the various afflictions of impurities; whatever evil of body, tongue and mind, bad action accumulated in threefold manner, I have done, together with similar things, I confess it all.

--p.10-11 The Golden Light Sutra, translated byR.E. Emmerick, reprint of the 3rd edition 2001(with parentheses taken out for readability)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

23. Padmasuri

There are two books by female FWBO order members. Srimala's Breaking Free is aptly titled, "Glimpses of a Buddhist Life". I wanted to find out how she meditated with two children, but she never told me. Similarly Naghabodhi wrote about India in his book Jai Bhim! Dispatches from a peaceful Revolution. While the two previous books are worthy in their own way, I found Padmasuri's book But Little Dust: life amongst the 'ex-untouchable' buddhist of india topped both in their project by going deeper.

Padmasuri's book is in 3 sections. There was the time she worked there as a nurse and acclimated herself to some degree. There is a middle section of fiction, that perhaps conveys a woman's life in India. And in the final section she is a Dharma teacher, traveling all over India.

I particularly wanted to know more about a retreat she briefly describes, how she came to the decision not to have children. I also wanted her to update the book, because the first edition was in 1990, the second in 1997.

But what she gave me was rich and provoked me to more thought. I've been corresponding with Anil in Pune, and quite enjoyed getting more information about his conditions there. There are no other books like this one, I searched on Amazon. I liked her description, too, of the project of taking Buddhism to India. Or rather supporting it in India. She called it a coals to Newcastle project.

I also quite enjoyed her description of a trip to a cave where Padmasambhava meditated.

I'm going to see if Alyssa wants to borrow it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

22. Advice from Me to Myself

Advice from Me to Myself by Patrul Rinpoche

Vajrasattva, sole deity, Master,
You sit on a full-moon lotus-cushion of white light
In the hundred-petalled full bloom of youth.

Think of me, Vajrasattva,
You who remain unmoved within the manifest display
That is Mahamudra, pure bliss-emptiness.

Listen up, old bad-karma Patrul,
You dweller-in-distraction.

For ages now you've been
Beguiled, entranced, and fooled by appearances.
Are you aware of that? Are you?
Right this very instant, when you're
Under the spell of mistaken perception
You've got to watch out.
Don't let yourself get carried away by this fake
and empty life.

Your mind is spinning around
About carrying out a lot of useless projects:
It's a waste! Give it up!
Thinking about the hundred plans you want to accomplish,
With never enough time to finish them,
Just weighs down your mind.
You're completely distracted
By all these projects, which never come to an end,
But keep spreading out more, like ripples in water.
Don't be a fool: for once, just sit tight.

Listening to the teachings — you've already
heard hundreds of teachings,
But when you haven't grasped the meaning of even
one teaching,
What's the point of more listening?

Reflecting on the teachings — even though you've listened,
If the teachings aren't coming to mind when needed,
What's the point of more reflection? None.

Meditating according to the teachings —
If your meditation practice still isn't curing
The obscuring states of mind—forget about it!

You've added up just how many mantras you've done —
But you aren't accomplishing the kyerim visualization.
You may get the forms of deities nice and clear —
But you're not putting an end to subject and object.
You may tame what appear to be evil spirits and ghosts,
But you're not training the stream of your own mind.

Your four fine sessions of sadhana practice,
So meticulously arranged —
Forget about them.

When you're in a good mood,
Your practice seems to have lots of clarity —
But you just can't relax into it.
When you're depressed,
Your practice is stable enough
But there's no brilliance to it.
As for awareness,
You try to force yourself into a rigpa-like state,
As if stabbing a stake into a target!

When those yogic positions and gazes keep your mind stable
Only by keeping mind tethered —
Forget about them!

Giving high-sounding lectures
Doesn't do your mind-stream any good.
The path of analytical reasoning is precise and acute —
But it's just more delusion, good for nothing goat-shit.
The oral instructions are very profound
But not if you don't put them into practice.

Reading over and over those dharma texts
That just occupy your mind and make your eyes sore —
Forget about it!

You beat your little damaru drum — ting, ting —
And your audience thinks it's charming to hear.
You're reciting words about offering up your body,
But you still haven't stopped holding it dear.
You're making your little cymbals go cling, cling —
Without keeping the ultimate purpose in mind.

All this dharma-practice equipment
That seems so attractive —
Forget about it!

Right now, those students are all studying so very hard,
But in the end, they can't keep it up.

Today, they seem to get the idea,
But later on, there's not a trace left.
Even if one of them manages to learn a little,
He rarely applies his "learning" to his own conduct.

Those elegant dharma disciplines —
Forget about them!

This year, he really cares about you,
Next year, it's not like that.
At first, he seems modest,
Then he grows exalted and pompous.
The more you nurture and cherish him,
The more distant he grows.

These dear friends
Who show such smiling faces to begin with —
Forget about them!

Her smile seems so full of joy —
But who knows if that's really the case?
One time, it's pure pleasure,
Then it's nine months of mental pain.
It might be fine for a month,
But sooner or later, there's trouble.

People teasing; your mind embroiled —
Your lady-friend —
Forget about her!

These endless rounds of conversation
Are just attachment and aversion —
It's just more goat-shit, good for nothing at all.
At the time it seems marvelously entertaining,
But really, you're just spreading around stories
about other people's mistakes.
Your audience seems to be listening politely,
But then they grow embarrassed for you.

Useless talk that just make you thirsty —
Forget about it!

Giving teachings on meditation texts
Without yourself having
Gained actual experience through practice,
Is like reciting a dance-manual out loud
And thinking that's the same as actually dancing.

People may be listening to you with devotion,
But it just isn't the real thing.

Sooner or later, when your own actions
Contradict the teachings, you'll feel ashamed.

Just mouthing the words,
Giving dharma explanations that sound so eloquent—
Forget about it!

When you don't have a text, you long for it;
Then when you've finally gotten it,
you hardly look at it.

The number of pages seems few enough,
But it's a bit hard to find time to copy them all.
Even if you copied down all the dharma texts on earth,
You wouldn't be satisfied.

Copying down texts is a waste of time
(Unless you get paid) —
So forget about it!

Today, they're happy as clams —
Tomorrow, they're furious.
With all their black moods and white moods,
People are never satisfied.
Or even if they're nice enough,
They may not come through when you really need them,
Disappointing you even more.

All this politeness, keeping up a
Courteous demeanor —
Forget about it!

Worldly and religious work
Is the province of gentlemen.
Patrul, old boy — that's not for you.

Haven't you noticed what always happens?
An old bull, once you've gone to the trouble of
borrowing him for his services,
Seems to have absolutely no desire left in him at all—
(Except to go back to sleep).

Be like that — desireless.

Just sleep, eat, piss, shit.
There's nothing else in life that has to be done.

Don't get involved with other things:
They're not the point.

Keep a low profile,

In the triple universe
When you're lower than your company
You should take the low seat.

Should you happen to be the superior one,
Don't get arrogant.

There's no absolute need to have close friends;
You're better off just keeping to yourself.

When you're without any worldly
or religious obligations,
Don't keep on longing to acquire some!

If you let go of everything —
Everything, everything —
That's the real point!


This advice was written by the practitioner Trime Lodro
(Patrul Rinpoche) for his intimate friend Ahu Shri
(Patrul Rinpoche), in order to give advice that is tailored
exactly to his capacities.