I am using Weeping Buddha and the lojong sayings and commentary from Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa as a study, together.
I’ve been practicing tonglen for almost three decades, and it is my main practice.
This is the twelfth weekly installment. To start at the beginning go here.
There is a lot to say about this slogan. The first is that this is a path toward
clear seeing and compassion. How do you practice clear seeing and compassion when in fact you are reeling from whatever form of “evil” you encountered?
Many folks think when someone harms you, you should be quiet, and accept responsibility for being harmed. Others feel that blame is needed. Armed with this slogan, understand that first there is clear-seeing. If someone harms you, they harmed you. They hit you, they called you names, s/he committed adultery. This is real, it happened, and so it is acknowledged. Obviously, if you need to call authorities (it’s a crime) then do that.
Then, what do you DO about it? Mostly we steel ourselves and try to insulate, often we actually hold our breath, or we attack. Breathing is first step. Breathe the pain in, send healing on the out-breath. Breath in confusion, anger, blame, all the negative emotions, and send out their antidote: clarity, calm, acceptance. As you do this you may see the part you played in the action, or may have understanding of why the other did what they did. This will further your path as you resolve not to repeat the mistakes you may have made, without laying some heavy trip on yourself. Understand, see, resolve, and let go.
Let’s say someone hits your car while you are sitting at a stop sign (there is no further clarity on your part in the activity) then if nothing else, as you breathe in and out you begin to know how it is to be that confused that you could run into someone. Yes, it is their fault, they need to pay for the damage, AND, there is no anger. You know what that is like; this is compassion building. Without a lot of hullabaloo, they need to pay and you will take action, AND, you have been that confused that you made a big mistake. You understand. This makes you civilized about how you approach the situation, and gives you wisdom.
By the way, you can do this in the immediacy of the accident if you have trained!
Last night I heard Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche speak at the “Awake in the World” conference online. Paraphrasing, Rinpoche was asked about enlightenment. He said that when he was young he asked his father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, what enlightenment was like. Trungpa said, “For you, painful.” While I may not be enlightened,
I know that being present is often painful, and I am present a lot.
I’ve been thinking about the synchronicity of Rinpoche’s story as it ties in with
this weeks slogan. We all make assumptions walking into a spiritual path.
Consciousness is supposed to make us feel better, help us chose better mates, make
better mates, have a better job, and to eventually solve problems so we don’t have so many issues. Unfortunately, because we live in a dualistic world, this is not usually the way it works. It does get better eventually, because, as I discussed in the first part of the post,
we move through painful issues with less resistance, which can make us feel
a bit better sometimes, but it won’t eliminate our problems.
This slogan is about welcoming the problems or irritating people when they show up.
It doesn’t mean you have to seek them out, but when pain arises in any form, we understand that it is part of life. We don’t treat it like an anomaly to be endured, because it is our path too! Maybe the best learning comes from this aspect of our path.
In his example, Trungpa Rinpoche spoke about poverty consciousness, or relating to your life on a level of pennies. He cautioned against fixating on loss or gain of a few cents or even a lot of money, but instead to free yourself of attachment altogether.
In our business I keep the books and do the banking. This means that I am one with ebb and flow of our monied life — I see it daily. I am reeling a bit this week, as we recently
had a great deal of work walk in the door, and then in a couple of days lost two projects after signatures on contracts and checks delivered. (Forget the legalities of all this,
it is not the point, or why they backed out, which had nothing to do with us.)
These constrictions cause me much more grief than Mitchell, partly because he is not keeping track of bills, but more than that, it is because of our personalities.
Mitchell sees us as being taken care of, glass half full, and while I can’t deny we are doing fine (we have enough each month, and have survived this incredible devastating economic downturn) I still see life as a crap shoot. My emotional response to a constriction is to pull in and curb spending (whether or not we have to) while his is much more even keel.
Unconsciously it feels like all the causes of the lack are evil politicians, crazy people, etc.
My work with this slogan is to breathe into the fears, the possibilities of lack, the stresses of constriction, and to send on the out-take calm, abundance, the clarity of past patterns, and the clarity of staying present for NOW. Now there is no lack, there is just enough. Staying present for now there is nothing to do but to chop wood and carry water, continue to do the work in front of me and even deal with the issues of lack as they arise — IF they arise. This is what I know to do as a small businessperson of over 30 years. This is what I must do in the face of the near misses, the checks arriving just in time, and living close to the edge as it has been during this depression, which many misname a recession.
I am a work in progress, and this is my path.
In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open to the feed becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.) I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.
For more info about why, go here.