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.

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