Mirrors and Us….

I am posted this because it has touched on something Nancy (Spirit Lights The Way) & I have commented on recently…maybe it will help you too? 🙂 It is from Tricycle, so feel free to go to their website for more information on this ….

“Pamela Gayle White, from Week 4 of the ongoing Tricycle Retreat, “Letting Go” that she is leading along with Khedrub Zangmo,

Something that has been very helpful for me is trying to understand just how subjective my own interpretation of sticky situations and difficult relationships can be. I have a story to illustrate this.

Once, during my first retreat with a group of people, there was a woman in our retreat center that most of the rest of us found irritating. We didn’t want to be irritated by her, for we were all trying to be good Buddhists, budding bodhisattvas. It bothered us that she was pushing our buttons continuously because that’s not how we saw ourselves—as ordinary neurotic people.

Of course, we talked about it, about her, as people do. Then one day four of us got together in one of the girls rooms and decided that each of us was going to write down what exactly it was about this woman, Therese, that bothered us so very much. We each got a piece of paper and a pen and were very happy to have a little project to work on. This was at lunch time so we weren’t breaking any retreat rules. We all sat down and wrote our pieces and then compared them. The result was a revelation.

One of the girls, who couldn’t throw anything away, said “Therese, she’s just such a packrat! She’s got this thing about grasping where she just can’t let go. It bothers me, I find it so irritating.” Then, the oldest among us had written, “Therese is just so old. She really doesn’t catch on very fast.” It was clearly about her own fears of getting older. Then the next of us shared that she had written “Therese, y’know, she just isn’t very swift.” This was the person who was having the hardest time learning the practices. Then, the fourth person, me, who has long been working with my natural tendency of being quite irritable, had written, “She’s just so irritable! There’s always this anger in her that is just waiting to flare up!”

We looked at each other and could see the problem wasn’t Therese at all. It was such a lesson.

Retreat isn’t just about practice, it’s also about these fabulous lessons that we learn about ourselves and others. Therese was a mirror that taught all of us. She taught me to ask, whenever I am having a difficult experience with someone, “what it is in me that can’t stand the mirror?”

*names were changed to protect the innocent

 

Book Review: ‘Surviving the Dragon’ by Arjia Rinpoche

Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years under Chinese Rule Arjia Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1950. He was recognized 2 years later as the 8th Arjia Rinpoche, the reincarnation of the father of Lama Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism.
As the Arjia Rinpoche, he is the Abbott of one of the largest and most influential Monasteries in Tibet, The Kumbum Monastery. In his book, Surviving the Dragon, he tells the story of his life as first, a monk; second, a Tibetan under the occupation of the Chinese Communist Party; and third, a refugee without a home to return to.
I met Arjia Rinpoche when he came to Atlanta to visit Emory and Drepung Loseling Monastery. I was enthralled with his retelling of the travesties done to the 10th Panchen Lama at his death and the subsequent choreographed Golden Urn Ceremony to choose his successor.
As I read the book, I developed a great respect for Rinpoche as he illuminated the problems he faced growing up under the Chinese abuse. He tells of the times he lost himself in the secular world forced upon him by Communism and the great teachers that gave him inspiration to carry on and return to his roots. His struggles to cooperate and work within the Communist bureaucracy are illustrative of the intentions of the Tibetans and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way solution to the Tibetan problem. It also illustrates the intentions of the Chinese to never truly allow a compromised solution.
“The current regime in China is uneasy with political and social changes of any sort.  But if a federation of autonomous regions were ever to be established, if a democratic way of life were ever to prevail, then His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s dream of the Middle Way, his hope for a genuine autonomy for Tibetans and other minorities, could be fulfilled, At last minorities could be free to follow their particular religious beliefs and celebrate their unique customs.  The five stars on the Chinese flag could truly stand for the equality of China’s ethnic groups – the Han majority and the Tibetan, Manchurian, Mongolian, and Muslim minorities – just as the 50 stars on the US flag stand for 50 separate but united states.  Like those white stars in a field of blue, China’s golden stars would shine for free people’s who share the daunting but glorious duty of governing a free country.  Then the dreams of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will come true for Tibet — and for the world. This too is my dream;  this is my hope;  this is my prayer. “

His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Arjia Rinpoche to write this memoir. He also asked him not to make any angry public statements against the Chinese despite his mistreatment by them. Rinpoche follows this request perfectly: he describes the abuses and mistreatment without any hatred or disgust, just as you would expect a Buddhist monk to.
Surviving the Dragon is an excellent book: a must-read for students of Tibetan/Buddhist history as well as an inspiration to the practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings. ~ Digging_the_Dharma

Book Review:The Bodhicaryavatara by Santideva by Debra Saturday

As I have just finished reading a translation of ‘The Bodhicaryavatara’ by Santideva (Shantideva), I wondered, ‘how will I retain all this great wisdom?’ . For me, re-reading a book will give me more insight…for invariably I will have pass over some of this and some of that….but also…at times my mind is not ready to understand the full depth of a verse or a passage…and then the next time I read it …a light goes off…’Ah! Now I see better’.

The Bodhicaryavatara by Santideva

From the back cover of this edition:

‘Written in India in the early eighth century AD, Santideva’s Bodhicaryavatara became one of the more popular accounts of the Buddhist spiritual path.’  One could ask ‘why this writing is so popular?’

Here my dear reader is an example: Perfection of Meditative Absorption, verse 135 – ‘If one does not let go of self one cannot let go of suffering, as one who does no let go of fire cannot let go of burning.’ With this single verse…if our mindstream is ready…we can make a direct connection between burning and suffering. but if you are me….it will take many more readings and many meditations to fully release.

So do I suggest this book to read? Yes. Make that a large caps Yes. 🙂 I had borrowed the book from our Monastery library…loved it so much bought my own copy from a used book store.

A last bit from the back cover: ‘Important as a manual of training among Mahayana Buddhists, especially in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Bodhicaryavatara is still used by modern Buddhist teachers.’ I agree. This book is a manual and that is how I read it. It is not always pleasant to read …some verses are grisly…’meat from skeleton’  …yet it is meant to be an awakening…to how reality is…not how we perceive it.

Enjoy! ~ Debra Saturday

A Zen Moment ~You don’t need to be happy every minute of the day ~ post by Martie Georgia

 

“Junkies are happy when they’re high,” I said quietly, “But they don’t need to be happy. They need to be free.” ~ Harry Dresden
‘How often have I encountered students and therapy clients who act as if acceptance means putting a smilie face on everything? They imagine acceptance is supposed to feel good, that it means feeling good about what ever happens. That is simply impossible.  When we try it, we just end up denying or repressing all our actual, complicated, ambivalent feelings until they have built up to the point where they can no longer be ignored. Then we are faced with a crisis. Not only do we have to face the problem itself, but our cherished self-image as an accepting person, as a “good” Buddhist, starts to crumble.’
‘Ending The Pursuit Of Happiness’ by Barry Magid

How many times in your Buddhist studies have you heard, “May you be happy ” or countless variations.  How many of us have struggled attempting to be happy all the time like the the literature and some teachers seem to suggest?

Well relax. You don’t need to be happy every minute of the day.  As stated in the quote above, you need to be free; then happiness will pass through your life freely along with sorrow, pain, anger and all the complex emotions that make up being human. To cling to happiness is as much an error as clinging to unhappiness.  Neither has any permanence.  They come and go.

Using a well known story to illustrate the point.: A husband asked a Zen master to intercede on his behalf with his wife. She had a very uncharitable nature.  The Zen master went before her and put his  fist under her nose and said “If your hand was always like this what would you call it?” “Deformed.”, she said  He then held his hand wide open and again asked the same question. She answered the same, “Deformed” He then said, “If you know that much you are a good wife” and walked away.

A naturally functioning hand opens and closes. Remains flexible. Neither locked into one  extreme or the other, the middle path as Buddha suggests. As in everything else, the middle is fluid and moves otherwise it too would be considered ‘deformed’. Just as a hand at rest is neither clenched or wide spread so too is our natural state. We are not one thing or another.

It may be that there is a tendency in the teaching of Buddhism to assume that we are all so enmeshed in the First Noble Truth of suffering that we need to be firmly directed to a happier place. This is not without merit as long as we eventually realize that there is no escape from suffering. Life is suffering. We just learn, eventually,  not to cling to it just as we learn not to cling to happiness.

Happiness is a byproduct of not clinging. It is not a goal. It cannot be forced by an act of will. Clinging less allows more space in our lives for happiness to enter naturally.

Martie Georgia

 

 

Book Review: 365 Nirvana Here and Now by Josh Baran

A little known secret: I enjoy quotes especially ones that take you deep within. Yes, I know, what a surprise! 🙂 It seems I am not the only one. most of my twitter contacts enjoy quotes also. Maybe like attracts like? Hmm. 365 Nirvana by Josh Baran

365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living Every Moment In Enlightenment, edited and with commentary by Josh Baran is one of those quote books that you can let the book fall open and you have your ‘gem’ for the day or if you are me, for the week. (Barnes & Noble/Amazon do not have this book in stock at this moment…your local well-loved book store might though!)

Given the title, you would think 365 Nirvana is entirely comprised of Buddhist quotes, yet it is not so…. Examples: “With ‘I’ eliminated…this is Nirvana here and now. ~ The Buddha,  ‘It is right in your face. This moment, the whole thing is handed to you. ~ Yuanwu,  ‘You search for God in heaven and earth, but you don’t know the one who is right before your eyes, because you don’t know how to search into this very moment. ~ Jesus.’

And this from the Introduction by Josh Baran…’This treasury of insights, a chorus of the present moment sung by ancient and modern voices that span time, distance, religion, tradition, and culture – is an invitation’ … I could not have said or written it better. This little book has become a constant source of reflective material that sits on my nightstand within easy reach.

So tonight…I let 365 Nirvana ‘pick’ the quote ending this post…see where it takes you.

Just One Time

Where you are going

and the place you stay

come to the same thing.

What you long for

and what you’ve left behind

are as useless as your name.

Just one time, walk out

into the field and look

at the towering oak —

an acorn still beating at its heart.   Peter Levitt

come