Notes at the end for this ongoing study:
This is the twenty-seventh weekly installment. To start at the beginning go here.
The fifth of the five strengths is aspiration.
Trungpa speak of this as ending with the wish to save all sentient beings single-handedly.
I like how Trungpa makes the practice very personal, very real.
If one is going to pray or practice, it should be as if the weight of humanity rests on your prayers or practice, it should be that sincere and real.
Aspiration is humbling.
To even consider that it is possible that your heart-mind to
relieve suffering is an awe-some responsibility.
I was in a Bardo teaching with Orgyen Kusum Lingpa,
and he was asking us (students) if anyone doubted
what he was saying was real. It was an outlandish story
of dissolving into air at death. I raised my hand.
The other students scooted away from me on the bench,
as if a thunderbolt was going to hit me!
But I am a zennie, and I also think you should
be honest with your teachers, and so, I didn’t buy it.
I told him I thought it was a lovely story but I didn’t think this was how it worked. He laughed hard and moved on. And I don’t really care about stories of how the Buddha was born of a lotus, or falling from a tree or from the side of an elephant. To me they are lovely metaphorical stories.
What is the point?
With this practice, I believe, and put my faith on the line.
Trungpa’s story of practicing as a little boy when he saw older boys throwing rocks at a puppy stays with me. He as several floors up and could not begin to stop them. He practiced with all of his might, breathing in the puppies pain, the mean boys pain, and sending comfort and strength and who-knows-what to the puppy and the boys. He felt the rocks on his body. Even in pain, he kept practicing, fearlessly.
I’ve practiced in horrific time and had amazing experiences.
That is humbling.
Having the aspiration is also humbling as it puts life into perspective without negating the suffering you, yourself are in. I may have a very serious problem that is upsetting, painful, real. As I practice, I breathe all that in, acknowledging the suffering in whatever form. As I breathe out, I send the antidote I imagine to all sentient beings suffering in that or other ways. I am reminded of my connection in this world to those suffering more than I am. I am reminded of my Bodhisattva vow. I am humbled by the size, the connection, the possibility. I practice more diligently knowing that this may work, this breathing.
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 drawing with a Preppie pen and Lexington Grey Noodler’s ink. Daniel Smith Primatek Amethyst watercolor paint.