Notes at the end for this ongoing study:
This is the twenty-fourth weekly installment. To start at the beginning go here.
I know that I have achieved some of this because I rarely hold my breath in tense situations now. I breath in the awful, and send out a better state than I am seeing.
Familiarization was studying after meditation, which became a daily joy
when I began to see dharma (literally, “truth”) — the teachings — as a lifeline to sanity, or as an antidote to my own mental health. Studying the teachings became a path to lightheartedness, to basic happiness or joy. Surrounding myself with the pithy sayings
on a daily basis meant they arose even in stressful situations.
I have friends who ask me why I dog-ear certain books instead of moving on to new teachers, new dharma. It is because a handful of my favorites contain all I have to learn and learn deeply. I’ve frankly
not gotten all that I can out of them yet.
I’ve yet to go through the lojong from Trungpa and felt, “Oh, I know that. Boring!”
Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, a couple
of lojong books, and the heart sutra.
This is all I really need.
If I had to grab just one book now it would be the red notebook. My notes on the lojong.
Pema Chodron speaks about the moment when you realize the teachings are all about yourself in the world. Dharma is not like studying law, which is distant and may not ever effect you. These teachings, or whatever is a lifeline for you, shows you a way to get to know yourself intimately, to stop running away in addictive behavior, and to put your foot on a path which will eventually bring you more joy even in trying circumstances.
Synchronistically, on FaceBook right now a lot of Christian authors and atheist authors debating the phrase, “All things happen for a reason.” I cannot enter the debate, because my ground of being and beginning suppositions are not close to theirs. I don’t think much about what God causes or Satan causes, and have never found it a helpful contemplation, so the debate over whether this or that caused the current problems is as inevitably stale and pointless (unless you enjoy that type of argument) as a game of tic-tac-toe.
It is an insensitive thing to say to someone whose husband/wife/child is dead.
I could write a book (I have) on stupid things people say to people who are grieving.
However, I will tell you that grieving is grieving, and it is important. Being honest in the moment helps (even if very angry, especially if you can temper your anger toward someone in a manner that is not abusive and own it). How you handle situations (and we are always talking the bad situations, never the good times) has a huge impact on how you experience them. Losing everything in the recession, the loss of a child or mate, being stuck in traffic — every one of these can be experienced differently depending upon how you respond. Loss hurts, yes, but if you let yourself feel it fully then move into chop wood, carry water (you eat, clean, bath even when crying) when it is time for that, then back to grief, then one foot in front of another (clean his closet out, let his son take his watch) — this way is better than trying to stop the pain up, and going into depression. Grief and depression are different. Grief is flowing, depression is clogged. Grief comes to an end, even momentarily, and changes palpably over time, even if you always miss the person you are grieving for. Depression can go on for an eternity; damage your health, even kill you.
Finally, I am also part of the insane crazy people who are into fountain pens
and watercolors and sketching. If you have doubts about whether the strength of familiarization is possible, think about your favorite hobby or pastime.
Honestly, I read blogs about pens, paints, techniques, paper, ink.
I write comments to friends on Facebook about all these things. Cooking too.
Way too much time early in the morning. Whatever your thang is —
cooking, fly fishing, knitting, baseball — know that the energy you put toward
knowing all about that is the same energy I put toward my study of the dharma.
IF I had a productive FaceBook page about it I would participate.
(They always seem to attract trolls. Has anyone ever swayed a member of another religion to theirs by getting on a blog and ranting against anothers religion?)
Certainly Mitchell and I discuss our relationship to our spiritual path and whatever
is on our plates at any given time. The energy pays off. I am healthier, more joyful
even in the worst of times, and much less blaming and abusive to others or myself.
(Note: I use the word abusive lightly, not as in beating the hell
out of someone or clinical abuse, which, BTW, is not advised)
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.
Some have asked me about my ongoing studies of Weeping Buddha. What is now called “Weeping Buddha” felt to me as a humbled figure long before I heard it called that. I called him “Buddha Ball’ for years, and regret his common name — but for this figure to be found I comply. I would rather not name him and let you feel his emotion for yourself.
They are all drawn in an OE or OKINA NOTEBOOKS (my favorite journals, also known as Cadic), and this one was created with a Neocolor crayon and waterbrush.