Friday, April 16, 2010

Nowhere Else to Go

Busy as a bat in a barn fire, during this most unusual of all retreats. The original scenario began at the Lunar New Year. I knew going in that we would be having various visitors, and breaks for scheduled empowerments, hence the "flexible boundaries." I also knew there would be work projects that might interrupt, and indeed there were. So, the upshot of this retreat is that I seem to be staying busy -- busier than I usually stay -- and there is a persistent illusion of something being accomplished. I cannot say there is a persistent illusion of accomplishment, because that might give you the wrong idea.

As mentioned elsewhere, my friend, who is my de facto adviser, was very generous when he suggested breaking up the retreat into intervals. Very generous, and very wise. When you ease into it like that, you reach the point where all the "intervals" converge. A month becomes like a day. A week becomes like an hour. Then, when you can stop saying this is "like" that, maybe you have a very auspicious state of affairs in any context.

Anyway, that is all sophistry, and not what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write about erupting volcano, shaking earth, low-down lawsuit Samsara. 

Being a Buddhist doesn't give you somewhere else to go when impermanence does the shimmy and the monastery falls down. If something like that is going to unnerve you, just imagine the fun you will have when you drop dead.

Being a Buddhist doesn't mean running around with a broom and a bucket, trying to tidy up Samsara for the benefit of all sentient beings. Thinking like that will just wear you out.
"The point (of compassion) is not to benefit anyone or make them happy. It is a matter of an open gift, complete generosity without the relative notions of giving & receiving. Simply be what you are. If you will just 'be' then life flows around & through you. If you can afford to be what you are, then you do not need the 'insurance policy' of trying to be a good person, a pious person, a compassionate person."
Trungpa Rinpoche said that, and it helps to remember his words while we are watching the kaleidoscope of fictitious display that comes along with every breath. Being a Buddhist means there is nowhere else to go: you are where you are and you are what you are, without breaking down the display in terms of preferences and aversions, or trying to escape psychic consequences of blind decision.

You would be so surprised to learn how many Buddhists don't grasp that simple concept. Instead, it seems that many of us have wholeheartedly embraced the "relative notions of giving & receiving." We busy ourselves to the point of distraction, trying to fix things that quite simply do not require fixing, with a temporal toolkit that quite simply does not fit. I am not saying that we should stop trying to save the whales. Rather, I am saying that we should occasionally step back, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves if  solutions are what whales actually demand of us; or, to the contrary, is this what we demand of them.

I'm going to save you, goddamnit, if it kills both of us! We become fanatical that way. We think of ourselves as kamikaze lovers: as Buddhist activists.
"I am aware, therefore, of the fault in distinguishing samsara and nirvana as separate on the basis of the magical miracle of awareness -- or ignorance. And yet my mind is saddened that here we are still beguiled by the cunning magician, our instantaneously arisen residual propensities. I understand that everything is a great lying projection, except for the ground field with its six special qualities."
Jigme Lingpa wrote that, and for me, as for so many others, it states the case without unnecessary embellishment. There is elegance in simplicity. Yet, as he says, here we are still beguiled. We throw ourselves into skirmishes and causes like an ocean of life was tributary to the ocean of suffering.

Life is fleeting. The favorable causes and conditions we now experience may not come again for an exceedingly long time. They may never come again. If you make enough mischief with yourself, you might become stuck in a door, a rope, or even a broomstick.

So, the little puzzle becomes this: do we run from alarum to excursion like a mad game of musical chairs, or do we sit down and stop playing?

Right now, it is easy enough to occupy ourselves with our reactions to current events. We can take sides, jump in, start organizing, and feel we are Buddhists! We are side-taking, in-jumping, organizers then, but no way are we Buddhists. All that side-taking, jumping, and organizing is viciously endless, and here we are still beguiled.

Here... we are still beguiled.

Here, in this moment that is a wide-open possibility, here in this life that is a perfect opportunity, and here, possessed of fortunate circumstance. There is nothing to hold you back. There is nobody to hold you back. The situations that seem so indelible are impermanent. The people who seem so real are ephemeral. All that you have collected will, in time, disperse. All that you have cherished will, in time, crumble.

The only thing that holds you back is you.

You already know this. You are only taking sides, jumping in, and organizing because you lack confidence in impermanence. You are recycling your tin cans. You are recycling your bottles. You can argue the benefits of recycling your garbage with great passion, but you still have no confidence that you, too, will be recycled.

You have no confidence in the fundamentals.

The cause and cessation of the cause of all phenomena has already been explained. You don't have to waste any time reinventing the wheel. You don't have to struggle around, searching for solutions.  Instead, you can just relax. All the hard work has already been done for you.

Embrace the fundamentals, stop conceptual assumption based on the fallacy of separation, keep the promises you make to yourself, and just allow your heart to open, based on naturally arising understanding.

All of the above notwithstanding, it is not untoward to pray for surcease of suffering for those perceived as victims of natural disasters, human contentions, and the fictitious affair of multitudes:  thus, may self-liberated perception evaporate delusion, may compassionate equanimity bring confidence in that which is effortlessly luminous, and may spontaneous presence exhaust the experience of dichotomy.

Or, as Trungpa Tulku said, be what you already are:

“There’s no need to philosophize your work in order to make it spiritual. It has spiritual bearing anyway. If you regard yourself as a person on the spiritual path, then whatever you do is part of the path, an expression of the path. Decentralization, the absence of ego, the lack of searching for happiness, and not avoiding pain — all of that brings us into the reality of dealing with things directly and thoroughly. Dealing with things in this decentralized, egoless manner is known in the Buddhist tradition as upaya, or skillful means. Without that, there is no means of discovering the inner guru, or inner teacher, as one might call it, which is the constant instruction that you begin to receive on the path. The daily living situation becomes the teaching; it becomes a constant learning process. There’s no way of developing that sense of inner teacher if you fail to relate with daily living situations directly, because without that, there’s no interchange with your world.”



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5 reader comments:

GK Sandoval said...

As it arises, so does it dissolve. Everything has a process--even buildings.

Om Mani Padme Hum / Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha

For the benefit of all beings. Namo Buddha.

GK

Sonam said...

So beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

I found an article about your tiny friends rabbits and I thought of you, my dear Tenpa Rinpoche

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7097862.ece

TENPA said...

You just made my day.

Jeanette said...

Tenpa you can write about these things like nobody I ever read or heard about. Really well done! Thank you so much!