The Road to Kalimpong

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This one’s just for me, and for anyone else who wants to watch it. A short film documenting the movement of Shamar Rinpoche’s kudung from Karmapa International Buddhist Institute in Delhi to Diwakar Buddhist Academy in Kalimpong.

Many thanks to the filmmaker for this moving and beautiful film.

 

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Shamar Rinpoche: The Road To Kalimpong

Everything, everything is impermanent.
Nothing is permanent, so you should be aware of it.
Therefore, you should not be surprised when something is changed.
Yes?
Not permanent.
So you should accept it, you should understand that things are not permanent.

If you think whether there is a chance to be liberated, or get out of these problems of suffering or whatever,
Yes, there is!
Why?
It’s naturally there, naturally.

It is not that you have to depend on a kind of, somebody’s blessings,
The cure is within you.

All the phenomena does not carry any substantial existence, or ultimate existence.
It is, it carries, the quality of illusion.
Therefore, Buddhism is a great knowledge,
Buddhism follows the nature of phenomena.

The Buddhist view follows the nature of phenomena,
and by knowing so you can cure the problems,
you can develop the cure from within it.

So meditation follows the nature, it is a natural antidote.
Yes?
So once you learn the meditation and how to improve your wisdom,
How to overcome all your illusions, all your ignorance.

Everything, everything is impermanent.
Inevitable,
It is, you will change, it will be changed.
So, yes, change is inevitable.

 

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Before I entered this path, I never really understood devotion. It was a big blank spot on my map of the world, vaguely peopled with sea-monsters and dragons, the shoreline unmarked.

It is a country I am astounded to find myself in.

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Namaste.

 

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An End To Seeking

Ed-Dreams-of-The-Circus-cop

I’ve been thinking about something one of my teachers was talking about, this idea of being a spiritual seeker, and how necessary this is in the beginning, but how we also must understand that once we’ve found our way we must unpack, put away our bags, and settle in to our new location.

So many of us get caught up in the idea of being a spiritual seeker, always looking for enlightenment, for wisdom, for clarity, for the super-special sauce that will instill our being with spiritual creaminess. We seek and seek. We read book after book after book, devouring what’s inside them like starving dogs, hardly pausing before we pick up the next one, or go to the next teaching, or retreat, or workshop. On and on and on we go, thinking that what we seek is somehow always ahead of us, up there somewhere in the future, between the covers of the next book or in the mind of the next teacher or what what what.

This impetus to seek the something that will sustain us, will provide what we really, truly need, is vital. If you don’t seek, you certainly won’t find.

But if you never stop seeking, you’ll also never find.

I don’t know where you are on your journey. Perhaps you’ve already found what you need and are now engaged in living that truth for yourself. I hope that is the case. Perhaps you are still seeking, and because you haven’t found the “path with a heart” that Don Juan talked about, you keep looking, and rightfully so.

But perhaps you found the path you were looking for some time ago, but you’re still acting like a seeker. And if that’s the case, you may feel still that, yeah, this is it, this is the place, but what I need, what I have to find, is the piece that will make it all come together for me. I need to understand this aspect better, I need to learn that area, I need to be given the real stuff, the inner stuff, the stuff those great masters have, and once they give it to me, then I’ll be set. Good to go.

And so you press on.

What my teacher was saying, and I think this is really brilliant and helpful if this situation applies to you at all, is that when we recognize that we’re on the path that works for us, we have to make a real transition in our whole approach. I will use my own path as an example here just because it’s close to hand and I’m familiar with it, but the essence of this shift is the same no matter how the external particulars are expressed- at some point you have to say, okay, I’m here. I found it. This is the place for me. I’m home. I’m not seeking any more.

And you unpack your bags. And you set up your new home. And you get to work. You begin to till the soil, plant, cultivate, harvest. You begin to manifest the fruits of practice.

It doesn’t mean you quit going to teachings, quit reading books, quit studying, quit trying to understand everything. The outer conduct may look exactly the same as before. But the internal landscape is radically different. And the results, the outcome, is radically different.

I think you can see this in people in your own church or mosque or temple or Buddhist center- there are many people who are active members, studying, learning, very well versed in the academic aspects of the faith or practice, but they remain somehow unchanged within, where it really matters, as if the teachings were merely bouncing off of some internal armor and leaving their souls unscathed. And you can see others, maybe newcomers, who arrive and are open and curious and seeking and they study and learn but then they begin to change, they begin to actually somehow embody the teachings. They may not always act skillfully, but they act with conviction and a willingness to risk looking stupid, to risk making mistakes, and they get better and better and you can tell they’re really doing it.

You want to be like the second person. You don’t want to be so close to the truth and still blind to it.

I think this is something that has been essential in my own transformation. I knew very quickly that I was in the right place, and I very quickly decided that I would do everything that the teachings said to do. I wanted to put it into practice, not just study it, not just think about it, but DO it. And this changed everything.

And there’s another aspect to this as well, I mean, I say I got it quickly, I decided quickly, but that’s not true at all, really. I was an armchair Buddhist for years and years and years, and I thought Buddhism was cool and neat and smart and helpful and I read books and thought, yes, yes, they’ve really got something there. But for all those years I never did a single thing that made me really a Buddhist. I was on the outside looking in, but I thought I was kind of inside, you know?

I had to develop real renunciation, maybe. Had to really feel in my guts that the first noble truth was a pretty good starting point. Had to really, really know that listening to my screaming ego was stupid and it was killing me and I wanted to stop. All kinds of causes and conditions had to arise, I guess, and eventually they did, and I found myself really standing at the foot of the path. I could see the path, could tell it really was going up the mountain- maybe it disappeared from view up ahead somewhere, but I could see where it was going, and I could see others up ahead of me, and I knew that there had been those who’d walked it to the end, and now I was standing there, right at the foot of it all.

And it was up to me to step on to the path. No one else could or would do it for me.

It’s that willingness to let go of our own whole selves, I think, that in someway opens the door. Something. You cannot hold on to what you think you are if you are to go forward. You can’t say, “I will take this path, but I will also stay right here where I am safe and I understand everything.” You have to leave yourself utterly, and go naked into the wildness of the unknown.

But there’s help. There’s guidebooks and signposts along the way. Books on gardening. Right? Because the journey, once you’ve stepped on the path for real, isn’t about going somewhere else, but being right where you are. Being where you are totally and completely, and then doing the work. The hard work of uprooting the stones and tree stumps in your untamed mind. Making space for compassion and love, digging out the weeds of selfishness, fear, and hatred.

Again and again it comes down to doing the work. And you know, when you first start out, your work is probably going to be weak sauce. Your shit is going to fall down, your plants will die, you’ll overwater, etc. It’s only by actually doing that you learn and get better. All the book knowledge in the world won’t grow you a delicious crop of tasty goodness. You have to get your hands dirty, you have to commit to failing and failing and failing until you get it. Then make it better, keep going.

Then you’re on the path. Then you’re going somewhere and nowhere at the same time.

And you change your world.

 

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Probably preaching to the choir here, but I find the idea very helpful.

 

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May you be happy, may you be free from suffering, may you be at peace.

 

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Namaste.

 

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Petition for Shamar Rinpoche’s Remains to Enter Nepal

teacher_shamarpa

 

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Those of you who read here regularly know that my teacher, Shamar Rinpoche, passed away on June 11th. It was his wish that his remains be cremated in Nepal and placed in a stupa near his monastery in Kathmandu. Permission for this was initially granted by the government of Nepal, but was recently withdrawn.

I’ve signed this petition requesting that the government of Nepal overturn their decision and allow his remains to enter the country and for the cremation ceremony and interment proceed according to his wishes. I’m sharing the link to the petition here for anyone who wishes to sign it.

I’m doing this because I want to honor my teacher’s wishes for his own remains, and in support of my teachers and Dharma friends who have committed to travel to Nepal for the ceremony, and it is my profound wish and prayer that the Nepalese government will reconsider their stance and allow this to occur.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and even if you don’t want to sign the petition I hope that you’ll add a wishing prayer of your own if you are so inclined.

Namaste.

 

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Petition to allow Shamar Rinpoche’s remains to enter Nepal

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Sangre De Mi Hermana

Sangre-De-Hermanas

 

I was reading yesterday this study about fluid dynamics that casts some interesting light on the question of which model is correct in the study of quantum physics. The standard model, the Copenhagen model, is what is taught in school- basically you have the quantum wave-form that is entirely probabilistic; the electron, say, in this wave form that has no fixed trajectory or position, spread out in this field of probabilities, and that wave form only collapses when an external observer comes along and takes a measurement. Then, pow!, that wave-form collapses into a point, and you can know the exact location, or the exact velocity, of the electron. This leads to a lot of weirdness in the “real” world model- it is often taken to mean that the “Universe” or “reality” responds directly, observably, to our attention, the kind of new-agey stance that drives scientists nuts.

This is one of the things that the Everettian model does away with, by positing a limitless number of universes that propagate at every branching of a quantum event- the electron, choosing between two paths, always takes both paths, and the Universe splits off into two universes, one in which the electron went left, the other in which it went right.

This also drives people nuts to think about. Scientists and normal people both.

This fluid dynamics study casts light on another theory, that of De broigle and Bohm, the pilot wave theory, or Bohmian mechanics. This theory postulates that there is another wave form that arises with the quantum wave form and acts to “guide” the electron- so there’s this deterministic “pilot wave” that drives the location of the electron along a path that appears to be probabilistic in nature but is actually fixed and determined by a complex interplay of real, but non-observable, wave forms. It is a “hidden-variable” theory that basically says, well, there’s this other thing, and it makes everything seem probabilistic, but, really, everything is much more solid and real- it isn’t dependent upon some external “observer” to force a collapse of the wave form into something “real”, a real, “point-like” electron. It’s really that the electron stays the same all the time, things aren’t weird at all.

Of course, this “hidden variable” theory also drives scientists nuts, because it seems kind of like they are just making up some new thing to force reality to act the way they are more comfortable with. The theory does not have wide, mainstream support.

This new experiment was done by these fluid dynamics guys studying a drop of oil suspended over a liquid….well, I’ll just let the guy who wrote the article explain:

This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.

The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.

Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.

To some researchers, the experiments suggest that quantum objects are as definite as droplets, and that they too are guided by pilot waves — in this case, fluid-like undulations in space and time. These arguments have injected new life into a deterministic (as opposed to probabilistic) theory of the microscopic world first proposed, and rejected, at the birth of quantum mechanics.

“This is a classical system that exhibits behavior that people previously thought was exclusive to the quantum realm, and we can say why,” said John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has led several recent bouncing-droplet experiments. “The more things we understand and can provide a physical rationale for, the more difficult it will be to defend the ‘quantum mechanics is magic’ perspective.”

Of course, this is all very preliminary and narrowly focused. It may not hold once you start to look more deeply (like, uhm, every other belief we hold?). But I thought it was pretty interesting.

In the same magazine there was an article about the discovery of this giant virus, much larger and more complex than any ever before seen, and how this discovery casts light on the idea of a viral origin for life. It’s interesting because it kind of provides another mechanism for the development of life that spans the gulf between RNA and DNA and the development of the cell.

We keep thinking we are really smart, really close to figuring things out. It seems to me that no matter how much we learn there will always be an infinite field of undiscovered truth awaiting our attention. Our knowledge, ever improving, is always going to be provisional. What we think now, almost all of it, we’ll look back on and laugh at in a hundred years. Or fifty. Or five.

In “The Island of Knowledge” Marcelo Gleiser uses the metaphor of an island of knowledge in a sea of ignorance. The island always grows, but as it does so the shoreline, the place where our knowledge bumps up against our ignorance, also grows, exponentially.

I talk a lot about this, but it bears repeating: no matter who is right, no matter what things are like fundamentally, what’s real, what is at the foundation of all of this, it is still true that we as human beings only get a tiny sliver of it, we can only ever be aware of a fraction of a fraction of “reality”, and that tiny piece we have access to we further reduce and filter out so we can work with some economy of effort on our own behavior as individuals. And within that tiny slice of a tiny slice of a tiny slice, we hardly pay attention to any of it. We’re enthralled by the repetitive voice in our own head, or haunted by it, and overwhelmed by the demands and insistence of everything “out there” clamoring always for our attention, and we blind ourselves with drink and drugs and television and all manner of distractions so we don’t even have to pay attention to that miniscule aspect of reality we can see and inhabit.

Is it any wonder that simply by sitting still and shutting off the distractions we can gain some interesting understanding about our minds, and by extension, our own reality? That by attending to the world as it is presented to us, we can begin to come to know something of its beauty and magnificence?

I don’t know anything at all about how things really are, fundamentally. I trust the scientists to do the best they can, and I figure they’re good at what they do. Their models can tell us a lot about how things are, at least on a functional, provisional level. But it’s important to remember that even their most advanced and foundational models are not universally accepted, and they’re incomplete, and they don’t tell us everything, and they might be wrong and they probably are wrong and will be discarded in time, but for now they’re the best we have.

It’s the same thing on the spiritual front. I don’t know anything at all about how things really are spiritually, either. I don’t have any idea if the Buddhists are right, or the Hindus, or Christians, or Jews, or what.

I think, though, that there is tremendous benefit in gaining familiarity with our own minds. I think there’s tremendous benefit in cultivating love for our fellow creatures, and the aspiration to be loving and helpful to everyone we meet.

I think there’s also tremendous benefit in looking within for the source of our pain and suffering and confusion. I think it is good to have that sense that when things are going badly for us that we can look within for all the ways we are creating pain for ourselves and others around us. Even if we’re wrong about it, it provides a sense that we have some control, we have some responsibility for how things are, and that if we always look outside ourselves for the solution we will always be disappointed. We will continue to suffer. Our liberation is always and only in our own hands.

Our time is so brief. It seems essential to wake up, to give thanks for the incredible abundance we’re showered with, and to love with total selflessness our fellow travelers. Whatever we think, whatever we believe. We all struggle and suffer, we all seek happiness.

We are all one.

Cue corny music.

 

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I think about my wife out in Colorado with the monk on their big adventure. All this beauty they’re seeing, all this wonder and craziness. How that monk just goes out in the world, doing his thing. He doesn’t give a fuck what anybody thinks. He’s gonna do good. He’s going to have a hell of a good time at it, too.

It seems as good a role model as any.

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I know I’m preaching to the choir to you. Everyone of you who reads here already knows what I’m just now figuring out. You are every one of you Saints and Monks and Bodhisattvas.

Thank you for being my teachers.

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Namaste.

 

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PS- how about that fucking art, huh? I amaze myself sometimes, I really do.

 

 

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Following Seas

Crossing The Channel

 

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What I will say is that I miss that woman.

 

She is on a hell of a good journey, though, I’ll give her that.

 

She’s a goddamn wonder.

 

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How is it that at my age I have suddenly broken through into a new way of being? I’m sorry for going on and on about it, but it is kind of right up in my face lately and so it’s what I’m going to keep talking about. Until I bore myself. Nevermind you. You got a right to be a little exasperated-

“When’s this guy gonna shut up already? He’s creamy, okay, got it. Next!”

Ah, well.

I have had all of my life a subtle, or not so subtle, feeling of anxiety and dread about what’s coming down the pipeline. Mostly because I’m always feeling that I’ve left something important undone and it’s going to bite me in the ass. This feeling arises, strangely, because I’m always leaving something important undone and then it bites me in the ass.

Perhaps understandably, I tend to a little bit of internal jumpiness.

This particular groove is so deeply worn into my neural circuitry that it has become an aspect of my internal weather, it is what it is like to be me. I can be sitting on the sofa on a Saturday evening, watching some dark Norwegian flick on the TV, rubbing my wife’s feet, comfortable and entranced, and yet there’s this buzzing tension in every cell of my body, like I’m a high voltage powerline.

“zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

 

It isn’t the most comfortable way to live. Yet I have clung to it. I remember in sixth grade our science teacher, Mr. Golden (“Science is Golden” he’d always say, laughing maniacally) set up this thing in class where he had a car battery hooked up to a wet rope he’d strung on a wooden cross-like frame and what you’d do is grab hold of the rope in your two hands up high near the top of the cross and then drag your hands down and spread your arms and the lower and farther out you went the higher the current got and the tighter your hands would clamp onto the wet rope and you’d get to a point where you just couldn’t let go. That current just kept your hands convulsing so rapidly that you couldn’t override the signal and you were stuck.

He got a big old charge out of that.

Ha.

Anyway, that’s kind of how I cling, have clung, to that pattern. I couldn’t leave go of it. I knew I looked pretty stupid, hell, I felt pretty stupid. Still, you know, there I was, “nnnngngngngnggnnnnngngngngnggngnnnn!”

All the damn time.

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Now my experience is different. There’s a spaciousness, a sense of deep and abiding calm where before there was always this buzzing tension. It is remarkable to feel. Very nice. Very pleasant. And there’s more, too. It isn’t just that something bad has gone away and now I’m at a kind of neutral point. Something bad has gone away and something wonderful showed up at the same time.

The world as it is.

And I’m bad in love with it. I’m like a besotted sixteen year old trying to get the world to take her pants off all the time. It’s embarrassing.

But, you know, pretty nice, too.

And people, too. I like them. To paraphrase Sally Fields, “I like them, I really like them!”

 

 

I really, really do.

 

 

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I dove into Buddhism seeking a solution to my pain and suffering. I have found that. Found that and so much more.

It’s remarkable. I don’t think I quite thought that things would change so drastically and so quickly. It’s a very effective medicine for the mind.

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I know that I’m kind of overheated right now and this will pass. I’ll get more used to this new state and settle into it and who knows, maybe it will be my new normal. Maybe it will pass entirely and I’ll only have the memory of it.

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Namaste.

 

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The Dishwasher’s Tears

tearful-dishwasher

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what do it mean?

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I don’t know where it came from, my intertubes moniker, the title for this blog, I really don’t. I’ve been using it for, what, nine years now. I’m the tearful dishwasher and this place is the dishwasher’s tears, with that question: “How do we reconcile the beauty with the horror?”

I think I have my answer. Not to the reconciliation, but to what this image means.

Of course, if you know me at all, know this place and the vibe here at all, it will come as no surprise that this answer is provisional, incomplete, and only leads to more questions.

Anyways.

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I think of this guy, I’ve always thought of him, seen him in my mind’s eye, he really is the tearful dishwasher- this part has always been there from the beginning: a guy, a humble guy, quiet, hardworking, keeps to himself. Probably his english isn’t that good. Probably he’s got a cleft palate or a lazy eye or something. Maybe a club foot. I don’t know, some mark, something that sets him apart a little bit, makes him feel a little bit uncomfortable about how he presents to the world. And he works in the back of this shit-hole restaurant bar club whatever place, someplace busy and loud and run-down. His boss is impatient, a little bit mean, comes in and yells, storms out.

You know the place I’m talking about.

The kitchen opens onto the back alley where the garbage is piled high and there’s grease staining everything, that bright metallic smell of rancid oil and old, wet garbage. His apron is damp and stained and he is damp and stained, too. There’s a big pile of dirty dishes that never ends, the busyboys just keep piling them up in an endless parade. There’s a rack where the clean ones go, all wet and steaming and gleaming, white plates and bowls and cups and the silvergray pots and pans, lids and sheets, the silverwear jangly and sharp and loud, everything loud. The sudsy water with bits of food floating in it, the steam rising off of it like out of a swamp, beading on his face and his bald head, mixing with his tears that flow without stopping as he grabs the next plate and plunges it into the hot water and scrubs it clean.

That’s it. Just a guy washing dishes, crying. Maybe he goes home after work to a wife and kids in a cramped basement apartment he shares with four other guys or maybe he sleeps on a cot in the kitchen. Maybe he smokes, standing out in the dank alley, the back door propped open. Maybe he drinks. You don’t know. We don’t know.

We just see him from behind, working away. I don’t know how we know that he’s crying, it’s not like he makes a lot of noise at it, I think it’s just that we know the title and so we think he must be crying. We know he is. It’s maybe just that we can’t see it.

Got it?

Okay, so what is that all about?

 

Maybe you should stop reading here, shut this page down, go click on something else. It’s never good when someone tells you their take on something like this. And that’s what I’m about to do. With the proviso: this is my own take, it doesn’t have anything to do with him, not really. He’s his own thing.

So.

 

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I think about the Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, sitting all serene and beatific in the shade of the Bodhi tree, touching the earth with one hand, his moment of enlightenment. That’s one thing, that’s an image of what we’re after. It’s instructive, it’s beautiful and holy.

But there’s this other guy, this dishwasher. He’s ordinary in every way. And he’s doing this humble job. Washing the dishes. Taking something unclean and making it clean. Nothing important, nothing earth-shattering. Just grab a dirty plate, clean it, grab another one. He just keeps doing it. The pile of dirty dishes never gets any smaller. He breaks some of them. Sometimes he’ll have a whole tray full of clean ones and he’ll trip and fall down the stairs with them and smash ‘em all. Picks himself up, goes back and washes more dishes.

He’s crying. Right? We know that. If we stood right behind him, real close, like we are now, we can see his shoulders move up and down a little bit like he’s sobbing. We can try to lean over and look, we can’t see his whole face but maybe we can see his cheek on one side and there’s tears going down it but really, it’s kinda hard to say because there’s all his sweat dripping off him, too, and the steam rising up and coating his skin and sometimes soapy water splashes up on him- it’s hard to tell but, yeah, he could be crying. Pretty sure.

And you know, you know he’s crying because he knows that there is suffering in the world. He’s crying out of compassion for all of that suffering that goes on, as endless and relentless as his own pile of dirty dishes.

But there’s this other thing, and you don’t know if this is true or not, but he knows it. He knows it’s true because it’s what really makes him weep.

He’s seen the same thing the Buddha has seen. He’s seen the glory of this world directly, the awesome terribleness in this vast, limitless, ever-unfolding show that is the present moment, that is everything just exactly as it is. It’s too big to be contained by the human heart, and it leaks out of his eyes in an unending stream of vast and limitless joy.

He keeps washing the dishes.

 

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Namaste.

 

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Science and Buddhism

spaceman-copy

 

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I’ve been doing a lot of work trying to come to an understanding about how science and Buddhism can be reconciled, if that’s at all possible. In the reading that I’ve been doing on theoretical physics, one thing that seems abundantly clear that there is no consensus, even among physicists, about the fundamental underlying reality of the universe. Is the wave form a theoretical model, or does it represent reality itself? Is the reductionist, materialist view absolute, is the Universe deterministic, or probabilistic at its core? Blah, blah blah.

What occurred to me is that both theoretical physics and, in fact, all scientific inquiry, and Buddhism, and all genuine spiritual, contemplative study, are the same. There is the bringing of attention to the quality of existence, either directed outward, towards the phenomenal world, or inward, towards the nature of inner experience. 

This quality of attention results in the accumulation of knowledge about the area of inquiry. There is nothing that can be attended to that fails to respond by granting the seeker a greater level of understanding. You can ask a theoretical physicist, quantum physicist, researcher, applied physicist, about the underlying nature of reality, and how it relates to their working model- is it just a functional model or does it actually tell us something about reality itself? What you are likely to hear is that some people will say that it is reflective of reality, and others will say that it isn’t, it’s simply a functional model that helps scientist do the actual business, creating the work of science on a functional level. Still others will say that the mystery is unsolvable, at least for now, and that further inquiry is, and may always be, necessary.

The same questions exist in Buddhism. The teachings reflect a model of reality that provides for aspiring Buddhas to do the spiritual work that will lead them to enlightenment, all Buddhists would agree on this point. But are the Buddha’s teachings reflective of an actual fundamental reality about the nature of the universe itself? Or are they just models, ways of thinking about self and the external world, but not anything fundamentally real? I think that there would be some dispute among high-level practitioners. In fact, a fundamental tenet of Buddhism says that once enlightenment has been reached, the models of Buddhism, the teachings, the practices, the Buddha himself, are left behind. Once you’ve crossed the ocean, you don’t have to drag the boat along behind you anymore. You no longer have need of it.

Anyway, what occurred to me is that it may be helpful to look at both pursuits as synonymous- the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of deep understanding. Both systems allow for profound understanding of what is going on in the universe. In both systems, things that appear to be common sense and true to everyone at the beginning of the journey are revealed to be illusory- the earth isn’t flat, the sun doesn’t go around the earth, matter isn’t solid, time isn’t a fixed quality, etc. Conversely,  the things that seem true to you once you’ve delved deeply enough sound absolutely insane to outsiders. The self doesn’t exist, phenomenon are empty of a real, independent existance, samara is endless, enlightenment is possible and attainable by all.

It’s all the same thing. And there’s no agreement, even among the most knowledgeable and skilled practitioners as to how exactly the theories correspond to what you might call “real” reality. But they are totally necessary to understand if you want to get anything done. You can do limitless work without knowing how, exactly, your model might be representative of the ultimate “truth. “

If you want to send a rocket ship to space, study physics. If you want to become an enlightened being, study and commit yourself to the contemplative sciences. The universe responds to the act of attention, and where you focus that attention determines your result.

That’s what I was thinking about this morning.

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May you be happy, may you be free from suffering, may you be at peace.

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Namaste.

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The Sacred Heart of Guy Charles Bailey

 

 

 

Sacred Heart of Guy Charles Bailey

 

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Gratitude, bitches!

 

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I don’t know what the fuck is going on but the boundaries of my world have broken down and the numinous has overrun the bulwarks of my heart. Everything is radiant.

Every.

Thing.

Is.

Radiant.

 

Perhaps it is mental illness. Perhaps it is mental wellness. I don’t mind either way. I have resolved to love you. I have resolved to love you. I have resolved to love you. You. In your particular manifestation. But without differentiation. I won’t love you better than anyone else. I won’t love no one else better than you.

I’ma love all y’all bitches.

 

*

 

I got this thing that’s happening, I’m practicing pretty hard. I’m working on attaining shamatha, this profound mental state- I’m not there but it’s a meditative state, an objective one that manifests certain qualities, and I am in pursuit of it. Pursuit gives the incorrect connotation, but does point to the kind of motion toward what I seek. I’m cultivating bodhichitta, or what Trungpa Rinpoche calls “the genuine heart of sadness.” Compassion towards all sentient beings. But there’s two kinds, there’s relative and absolute. This is a big deal for Buddhists, man, this relative and absolute thing. You gotta pay attention to that aspect of things or you can get bad lost. Just sayin’.

Anyway, relative Bodhichitta is that everyone is suffering and you aspire to relieve their suffering. You aspire to take on the suffering of others and to give them your own happiness. That’s the Bodhisattva ideal. So, I cultivate that aspiration and I try to see that everyone is suffering in some way, and that everyone wants to be happy and wants their suffering to end. This is a powerful tool in making hateful assholes turn into sweet, tenderhearted best friends.

Before I began this practice the world was chock full of hateful assholes. Those motherfuckers were everywhere, standing on every street corner, occupying every position of power, running their sucks on every television channel 24-7.

Now, they’re all my friends. Are they confused, hurtful, causing a lot of pain to others still? Yeah, they are. But I like ‘em now. I got a tender regard for them. I can see how they are trying to stop their pain. I want them to be happy, I want for them to find a way out of that suffering. I genuinely do.

That’s on the relative level.

On the absolute level, there really isn’t any suffering. There really isn’t anyone to do any suffering. There’s just the ground of being, there’s natural mind, and there’s the play of forms, the endless exuberance of the physical world, and everything is a dream, an illusion, everything is fine.

It’s akin to the woman who dreams that her child has fallen in a river and is being swept away, and she leaps into the water to save her baby, and her other child is still standing on the banks of the river and as the mother is swept downstream a tiger eats the child on the riverbank and by the time she gets to the baby in the water he has drowned and she drags herself out of the water and lies on the bank of the river, stunned and bereft and inconsolable in her loss.

Then she wakes up, and, you know, everything’s cool.

So, yeah, she suffered. That suffering was as real as if she really had lost her children, it was not one bit less because she dreamed it. But it dissolved upon waking. It wasn’t real in that sense, it didn’t remain because the whole thing had been a dream.

It’s like that for us now.

 

That’s the absolute level.

 

And that absolute level allows you great freedom in taking on the relative level suffering of all sentient beings. They suffer terribly, we all do, and it’s correct to do your best to alleviate that  suffering for everyone you possibly can. And keeping the absolute in mind greatly mitigates our own, personal suffering, because we can see it for what it is and it loses some of its power over us.

*

So, working on Shamatha and cultivating Bodhichitta. Also doing lots of reading and going to all the teachings and retreats I can find. Also, working on lucid dreaming with the aspiration that I can turn my dream time into practice time as well, which is a very good preparation for death, also something I’m working diligently on. Keeping death in my mind at all times, my death, and letting that knowledge guide everything I do.

Also doing this Science and Buddhism seminar thing and doing lots and lots of reading on quantum physics and neuroscience, watching lots of youtube talks and reading papers and books and thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, probing, pushing, going deeper and deeper and deeper and also wider and wider, farther and farther afield, and then also having all of these smart people talking back to me and probing my own ideas, making me question things I’d never thought of, etc.

Anyway, what feels like is happening is that on multiple fronts everything is coalescing around this numinous experience of the world as profoundly dream-like, profoundly non-solid, but very vividly manifest and astoundingly, achingly beautiful, and peopled with the most wonderful beings, all of whom are potential Buddhas, all of whom are wounded and suffering, all of whom are loved and loving, many of whom are deadly and dangerous and very badly confused but still have the seed of enlightenment buried somewhere within them, and this very brief, very provisional opportunity to experience all of this wonder while I have this body, this brain, this madly beating heart.

 

I can’t believe my good fortune.

 

***

 

Namaste.

 

***

 

 

PS- it might seem like I’m bragging here, taking credit for all of this change that is sweeping over and through me, but it is not the case that I feel that I am in any way responsible for what is happening, except that I am bringing myself deliberately to this place and opening myself to the change and asking for it.

I just read something from Jourdie that talks about how profound a time it is just after a great teacher’s passing:

 

“The death of a great spiritual teacher is considered an incredibly auspicious time for practice. It is both an invaluable reminder of the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, which is the nature of all things in this life, and an opportunity to connect directly with the teacher’s wisdom, as he is present not physically but in force of mind and spirit.”

 

I have no doubt that Shamar Rinpoche’s death has had a profound effect on me personally. I feel very strongly that he is guiding me, removing obstacles from my path, and fostering my growth as a spiritual being in order that I may be of benefit to others as quickly as possible.

So, you know, props to him. It ain’t me doin’ this.

 

*

That is all.

 

***

 

 

Dear Leader Faces Our Dangers With Resolve

Dear-Leader

 

*

Stand the fuck by, Rhinoceri.

*

 

I got nothing to say, really, I just wanted to put that art up.

 

*

What I’m reading:

The Taboo of Subjectivity by B. Alan Wallace

The Island of Knowledge by Marcelo Gleiser

Preparing to Die by Andrew Holecek

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Dreaming Yourself Awake by B. Alan Wallace and Brian Hodel

 

*

 

This work of lucid dreaming and making friends with death is acting as a powerful acid, eating through the constructs of my personal model of what makes up reality.

 

I feel quite unhinged.

 

Not to say that this state is not one I’m actively seeking. It is the case that my desire and my actions are converging on this work of dis-assembly. The more time I spend sitting with my natural mind the more I see the powerfully corrupting nature of these constructs I’ve been so ardently building my whole life, and the greater my determination to uproot and dismantle them grows. The process feels analogous to spring cleaning, with the same resultant sense of clarity, openness, and freedom.

I don’t know what any of this means. I don’t know if I am growing more sane or more delusional. It certainly feels like sanity. I have the subjective experience of vastly increased happiness and joy, a very tangible sensation of decoupling from my most gripping and debilitating negative mental and emotional states, a profound sense of desire to be of benefit to others, and a concomitant sense of an innate ability to do just that, to actually be of benefit.

I no longer feel burdened by my own small troubles. It isn’t that I have ceased having them, they just no longer seem very important. Or, more accurately, I no longer seem to feel that, whatever they are, my problems somehow outrank the problems of others, that is, I no longer feel certain that I should marshal my limited energy to tend to my difficulties first, and then if there’s anything left over I’ll help you out a little bit. If it isn’t too draining or inconvenient for me. It’s kind of like saving money, you know that idea that you pay yourself first, you put your savings away first, and then you use what’s left to pay the bills and live on- because if you pay the bills and live, and try to save what’s left over,you’ll never save a dime. There’s never anything left over.

Perhaps compassion is similar. Maybe if I treat everyone who needs it with compassion first, then use what’s left over from that to sort of tend to my own emotional needs, that’s best. Because the funny thing about compassion, when you cultivate it, when you make it a big part of your attention and your intention, your desire and your prayers, it seems to really respond, to kind of grow as big as you ask it to. If all you ever ask of it is to cover your own ass, tend to your own bad mood and shitty job and not enough money and what what what, then that’s kind of all it will do. Just barely cover your ass.

But if you say, hey, you know what, compassion? I’m gonna need you to step up your game because what I’d like for us to do is to cover everybody’s ass. Man, every single one of us be suffering. Without exception. We need to do something about this shit. We need some supersize compassion, yo.

Then what happens is magic. You get what you asked for. You find yourself with enough compassion so everyone can have as much as they need.

 

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

*

My aim is to do this thing. Get enlightened in this lifetime. Be of benefit to all sentient beings.

I’m all Yoda on this, shit, too.

“There is no try. There is do, or do not.”

 

*

 

Namaste.

 

***

Working the Deadfall

working-the-seam

I have dedicated this year to the pursuit of understanding death. I make meditation on death a part of every practice session, and I’m putting diligent effort into bringing my own death into clear focus, trying to keep the reality of my death foremost in my mind. It is a slippery, elusive goal, harder than you might think, to really probe into death and see it clearly, directly. I ask all the time to be able to see death with wisdom and clarity, without fear, without aversion, directly as it is.

Of course death is eager to bring me this knowledge. I think like anyone he wants to be known and understood. Not that death is a he, or a person, or personality at all, not that. But as I grow more and more convinced that everything I experience is a manifestation of mind, of naked awareness itself, it seems a mistake to put myself over here and death over there, outside of me, apart from me. And it seems a mistake, too, to apprehend death as something to be feared and dreaded. I think it really is possible to see death as the single most beautiful and necessary aspect of life itself, vital and pure and not at all what it seems to be from our normal perspective.

I have been helped in this work by following Ezra in his battle with cancer and his own recent death. He had a lot of time to face his death and I am astounded by his courage and clarity and wisdom in how he lived and in how he faced death. Of course, death is all around us in every single day. He is a willing, available, patient, and endlessly active teacher. He never tires of teaching and always welcomes new students. And how sad and strange it is that we need this teaching, this understanding, so much, it’s vital to us, and yet we run from it, we hide from it, we spend our short lives pretending that we don’t need to understand it.

Since Shamar Rinpoche’s death I have found this practice enriched beyond my ability to fully grasp. By stepping across the line that divides the living from the dead, I feel somehow that he is giving me a very personal teaching on the nature of death. I find myself much closer to him than I ever felt while he was alive. I feel, I experience directly a warmth and presence when I look at his photograph, as if some spirit animates the empty photograph and he somehow looks out through those eyes right at me. I feel him in my heart and hear his voice in my head. All sorts of concepts and misunderstandings I had of him when he was manifest in this life are falling away- I see them to be constructs of my own confusion and obscurations, and now I am somehow able to see better, see more clearly, what he really is.

Of course, all of this understanding is the result of my own opening towards something that was always there. It isn’t the case that he is somehow revealing something to me now that he is dead, although it does seem like that to me. Rather, his death has freed me from some of my own ignorance and allowed me to see with much greater clarity. I have an intellectual and emotional experience of death being a vast, vast country of blindingly powerful truth, something foundational, something essential, and something that will not remain a mystery for any of us.

I don’t think I’m making much sense here. But I’m grateful for this sea change in my outlook. I think it will be of great benefit to me as I continue to explore this wild and beautiful country.

 

*

 

Namaste.

 

 

***

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