Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Practice

I am jumping slightly ahead with my exploration of Dhammapada, but i feel its important.    

   I woke up this morning at 1:37am. My heart pounding, my head filled with painful, jealous, hurtful images from a dream i just had, where love is taken away from me. I keep fighting for him, for his affections, for his heart, but he is slipping away to another. Powerless, restless, angry, scared i open my eyes wide. The ever full moon shining in the window. It seems like it has been hanging over the city for 3 days now, watching.  I cannot stop the anger. Angry at myself, angry at the other woman, the images, angry at this dream, angry at the moon. I start to breath and close my eyes trying desperately to slow down my heart rate, not working. I get up. Grab Dhammapada and open on the chapter of anger. The first line reads:

"Let a man leave anger, let him forsake pride, let him overcome all bondage! No suffering befall the man who is not attached to name and form, and who calls nothing his own."  - Dhammapada 221

How applicable. He is not mine to keep, to have, no one is. No one can or should be. By a virtue of being completely 100% human i have a real problem with abandoning attachment. It will take me potentially never to learn that lesson. A person is free to do whatever they please, the rule is that one should be not only mindful of themselves, but mindful of all her/his surroundings. This brings me to a passage of thoughtlessness. I only know what i know and therefore i speak for myself, but another rule that has never failed to be true in my life is that every thoughtless action brings pain. I am not talking about getting last minute concert tickets for twice the price because all my friends are going and I MUST make it. Although that hole in my wallet will speak to me later. I imply the thoughtlessness that comes from selfish motives. If and when i have exchanged a deeper look at the situation for what i thought was a "light hearten", careless, approach to living, the result was that i pained or made someone pain instead. The former is worst, because it inevitably, charges on the topic of guilt...But THAT is a chapter in itself.

"Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth." - Dhammapada 223

Back to anger and my early morning.
As i kept on reading slowly through the pages, my practice has begun. The yoga has begun. Since i no longer could focus on sleep i focused on the the words in front of me. They spoke to my restlessness. The text in front found a way to relieve this consuming anger inside and i started to melt back into the calm of the sheets. I decided to substitute every negative jealous thought i had with a feeling of suffering of another person, or people in my dream. I know that as i want happiness,  and as i think i deserve it, so does EVERYONE else. We are all united by the same search. Any action that is wrong or right is  directed towards attaining that "Happiness" however we may imagine it. (These are actually not my thoughts only. I am also paraphrasing from "The Art of Happiness", Howard. C Cutler, MD. A compilation of essays and conversations between him, a western psychiatrist and the 14th Dalai Lama). This may sound strangely simple, but i was angry no more. It is FAIR that everyone is trying their hardest to be happy, no matter what the means are.It is NOT always the RIGHT means. I am not of Machiavellian school of thought. I use the word "fair" because everyone deserves happiness, so it IS fair for everyone to try to be.This topic needs expansion, but i will wait on it.
With this last thought i decided that my immediate solution for "happiness" is to do a head stand, so i proceeded with that.  15 deep slow breaths brought my heart rate even lover, my eyelids got heavy and after coming down i crawled back into bed and drifted off to sleep.

I consider last night to be the first step of my life long practice of self control. Not because i have never exercised  restraining my restless thoughts before, but because this was a very conscious effort aided by the tools i discovered and knew would help. It sure felt like the first step though, because in the battle with my  at times overactive, imaginative, compulsive, scattered, untamed mind, i felt rusty. The good news is that i can only get better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dhammapada and a Couple of things...

"As rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, passion will break through an unreflecting mind." Dhammapada 13

"As rain does not break through a well-thatched house, passion will not break through a well-reflecting mind." Dhammapada 14

I never defined Dhammapada, even to myself. According to tradition, it is an ancient text that contains Buddhas' sayings through his life on different occasions and in diverse situations. The collection of this wisdom, Dhammapada, aims to make Buddhist way of life available to anyone and everyone. Hopefully including yours truly. This does not mean i am converting and the next time you see me i have shaved my head, robed up in yellow and burgundy and currently floating in the direction of Tibet . This means that I will make myself open, STOP and contemplate some very old words (3rd century Before Common Era)  from what seems to be a very wise source.

I have picked these verses today as a point for reflection. It is true for me. Passion in its ugliest form of hatred and anger arises from inability to understand another or yourself. I know only what i know and the way my passion has leaked, or should i say burst through my "ill-thatched dwelling" is from inability to calm the mind in the moment of rage, hurt, anger, pain. Lack of compassion for a person causing the pain even indirectly, potentially unknowingly doing so. I am guilty of such stalling to reflect truly on what the situation and my emotion really represents. Mostly it is rooted in fear i think. Many of my mistakes have been made out of fear. The name to that fear is loss of love. However the monster may present itself, either it be in loosing the love of a man I call the one, a love of a parent or friend, inevitably the result of acting out of fear for me has been the fear itself coming true. That formula in my life has not failed yet.

I have diverted from the original subject of "reflection" for a passage reflecting on "fear" :)

Dhammapada 14: As i am yet to gain more skill in the art of reflection, for me, what i believe is necessary to become a "well built house" is time. I say time, because when you begin learning the task, it usually takes longer to develop it where you unconsciously or automatically perform it. Or at least that stands true for me. As i said before, i only know what i know. So, i am taking time to learn how to reflect calmly in every situation life presents me with. A grand opportunity will come soon when i am going to travel back to the "Motherland" for a rather turbulent occasion.. I will report of my progress or digress.

Another, separate note. Today i was very thankful to receive a reaction to my blog entry dated Aug-20-13, from a person i take great interest in and admire, she is family. She has written me a long email sharing her life experiences and talking about the "IT". Yes, the "it" is what i have tried to find. The "it" to fix me, to be a solution and a universal formula that relieves pain and suffering in my world, my reality that i myself labor at daily. She told me that there IS no "IT" . She has shared with me that she believes life is a process. That "our" challenge is to learn to truly live in the present-soak up the beauty of the process. These words spoken by a woman, a layer, a yogi, a cancer survivor, my family, resonated deep in my heart. I have decided to try it. Commence the soaking now.

Another person worthy of admiration in my book. Fearless she is. Her and i have been friends for ages (as her British self would delicately put). There is another formula that has not failed in my life. In a time of great personal need, people that love you and know who you are somehow sense..and SHOW UP in whatever form, virtual, spiritual, physical. Her and i have been trying to get a "Skype date"  going for the past 3 weeks...and today, out of all the days, with no prior warning, here she was, lighting up my laptop screen and my soul. Experiences like THAT  are worth sharing. Happy experiences.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The beginning

        I sit in the kitchen of my dad's house. It is closer to midnight then not. The need for an emotional purging of sorts is bursting out of my chest and i just finished "resurrecting" my past entries and laying them down in the safety of cyberspace. Today was the first time i didn't practice in a week, but the night is still young. An entire morning and afternoon of my life today was spent on earthly duties of paying bills, renewing insurance, obtaining a PO box for my business, buying airline tickets, switching banks from the horrid, overgrown, money sucking conglomerate that is Bank of America, to a more "democratic" option of a union bank. In whole, things of very grounding nature, first chakra perhaps. The Root chakra.
You must start somewhere. Let me correct that..I MUST start somewhere. I must start here. At the base.

I am grateful. I am grateful for my papa and his second half. I have not felt this much support and i have not felt home or a sense of belonging for a long time. They have made me feel safe. I hope it will last, i hope i can manage all of the recent misfortunes with grace and come out better person, stronger spirit and kinder being. I also hope i will find my truth and  i will not spend time in delusion. I have done that before. I am guilty of that and i am endlessly sorry that in the process i have hurt deeply the once closest and dearest to my heart. I MUST learn.
          " They who imagine truth in untruth and see untruth in truth, never arrive at truth, but follow vain desires. They who know truth in truth, and untruth in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires." Dhammapada 11

Two teacups of Matcha Green later and a book is opened..

Another point of self study/improvement of awareness is to notice that the only time i feel the need to express so profusely is when my soul and heart is in distress. I must learn how to commit to writing more when happiness is at my door, so i can share THAT experience as well.

Full moon tonight.