Sunday, January 09, 2011


As I pointed out in my last blog post, there was a new paper by Subhuti about imagination, that has a lot of things in it. It clarifies a lot of stuff, which is good. It's a bit hard in the beginning to get into, like many of Subhuti's papers, but once I got past the cultural history of why were are a bit dead in the imagination at this point, which was true but somehow made it hard to get going on the essay for me, the essay hit on a lot of interesting point.

I've become more interested in the Jungian, imaginative world lately, reading Endless Path, which is wonderful in many ways, and because I've been reading The World Is A Waiting Lover, which is an interesting memoir and and journey into the self. Trebbe Johnson fell absolutely in love with someone even though she was in her 50's, happily married, and she rationally knew it wasn't the thing to pursue. Her husband was quite the trooper and didn't stand in her way, and she went on an interesting journey, where she comes to the idea that in many ways we're not open to our world because we get scared. She's very much into vision quests and connecting with the environment. Anyway, I'm simplifying and not really doing justice to a book my friend told me about on retreat. My friend told the story really well, and then wove in his own stories and it was really cool. He's met Trebbe Johnson and you can too if you want to go on a trip with her. I think I might want to do a School of Lost Borders adult vision fast if I can ever gather the money and time together.

Supposedly the Jungian institute in NYC is the most expensive. I didn't go to the most expensive, nor have I had a Jungian analysis, but I am interested in this line of thinking.

So this paper coming out seemed well timed in my life, encouraging me to pursue a line of interest: Imagining the Buddha. I was once at a day retreat where we were told to go outside and imagine the Buddha was walking with you. I remember feeling a huge awesomeness, something really large, profound, overwhelming and yet gentle and kind.

Also in working with the TBC Puja, and the 7 moods, in the first one is worship and I've thought about pampering the Buddhas, an assemblage of archetypal and historical Buddhas and great Buddhists. I imagined washing and feeding them, caring for them.

You've probably heard the story of Tibetans going to a museum and prostrating before a rupa. I've always wanted to do some big devotional thing in front of a Buddha at a museum to freak people out because it might not be expected at a museum.

Another point I enjoyed reading from Subhuti and Sangharakshita, was the idea that enlightenment must be a goal for someone wishing to join the order. I've heard many friends say something like, "well, I don't know about enlightenment, but I want to be more mindful and kind." I suppose that's alright, and not bad. But to me that's like wanting to go to an amusement park and not wanting to go on the biggest and baddest roller coaster. Of course you have to do the biggest and baddest roller coaster when you go to the amusement park. Not that the spiritual life is like going to an amusement park.

Of course it's scary to imagine, the countless lives it took even Gotama to become enlightened, if the Jataka tales are to be believed literally. It might even seem over confident to imagine you could become enlightened, or even weird considering I don't really put in the time meditating right now being sick, working and having children. You have to bust ass, if you'll excuse the profanity. There's talk of a rubber band snapping back, you have to break through somehow. That is scary. But becoming a stream entrant is seen to be possible in a lifetime, a realistic goal. Break the first three fetters, and you've created a certain kind of momentum that won't be shaken.

Now if you're not so sure about rebirth, like I am, then you've kind of got to do it Milarepa-like in one lifetime, which makes things even harder. I can't say I know it's not true, and I have to keep an open mind because my spiritual betters often talk about it, but I have no experience of it myself.

There is a part of me that feels that just closing the distance is important, whether or not I actually achieve the goal might not matter, and being very goal oriented makes you not achieve the goal apparently. So on one level, I do just feel good moving in that direction, but you can't get rid of enlightenment, you can't just say moving in a positive direction because then it's just a glorified self help movement without the transcendental.

In the ordination verses, you accept ordination for the sake of enlightenment, so that's a key part of the acceptance verses.

So for many reasons, and ones I don't even know about, imagining enlightenment is important.

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