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

 

The Illusory Nature of Phenomena

When we look around us, we can see that nothing exists in isolation, which is another way of saying that everything is interdependent. Everything depends upon an infinite number of causes and conditions to come into being, arise, and fall away moment by moment. Because they are interdependent, things don’t possess a true existence of their own. For instance, how could we separate a flower from the many causes and conditions that produce it —water, soil, sun, air, seed, and so forth? Can we find a flower that exists independently from these causes and conditions? Everything is so intricately connected, it is hard to point to where one thing starts and another ends. This is what is meant by the illusory or empty nature of phenomena.

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche, “The Theater of Reflection”

The Thirty-Seven Practices of the Bodhisattva by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

I found this teaching by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama on Lama Yeshe’s site.

After reading it, I knew I should share this wonderful teaching. Here is a snippet of what you will read:

‘You have come a long way to be here, from various countries, and often with much difficulty and trouble. There are the strikes, and there are many of you, and it is not easy to get here. And you have not come here with the intention of going to a festival, for entertainment, or to do a good business deal, or for any personal glory. You have come here to hear the Dharma, more precisely Mahayana Dharma, to receive a tantric initiation, more particularly that of anuttarayoga, and among these Kalachakra. To some completely samsaric people, this may seem strange and even comical. Never mind… Even if we have not come with a perfect motivation, this is already something very great, the goal is an excellent one.’

So remember when you read…’Even if we have not come with a perfect motivation, this is already something very great, the goal is an excellent one.’ 🙂 Namaste

 

 

 

 

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

Praise of Awakening Mind, verse 1 of The Bodhicaryatara, by Santideva

Praise of Awakening Mind, verse 1 (24 seconds long)

I am testing a new type of post (for TBLC): an Audio post. This idea has been tumbling around in my mind for a few weeks.

‘The Bodhicaryavatara’ by Santideva (Shantideva) is a most wonderful jewel. I hope to write a review in the next few weeks, but for now….I can only hope my voice does some justice to this treasure.

Om Mani Padme Hum

 

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