Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Dön Season

For the welfare of his students and all sentient beings, the late Trungpa Rinpoche introduced the period from the twentieth lunar day of the twelfth lunar month through the twenty-ninth lunar day (Tibetan reckoning) as "Dön [Tib. gdon] season." In the specific context of Shambhala teachings:
Döns refer to sudden attacks of depression, resentment, anger, or other negative emotions — like an unpredictable flu that takes us over. In the last ten days before the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, it is said that one can be more susceptible to döns, so it is a particularly good time to hear teachings about working with obstacles.
Trungpa Rinpoche taught his students to observe this season by reciting Pacifying the Turmoil of the Mamos one thousand times each day, for a total of ten thousand repetitions. The necessity for this is explained, in part, as follows:
Turmoil of the mamos, being connected with the feminine force, is more especially connected with breakdown of people's connectedness, their social fabric, dysfunctional families, betrayal of loyalties -- "perversion of passion" in that sense. It also refers to illness and disease, the body-mind energies being distorted and out of balance. A protector's practice is traditionally done at the close of the year to help clear away accumulated negativites. That is why we do the practice to Pacify the Turmoil of the Mamos at this time.
So, then, this coming Sunday, February 12, 2012, marks the beginning of the "spiritual flu season." One might at the very least take genteel precaution, such as sneezing into one's shoulder whenever one senses a discourse coming on.

Ah... ah... ah... choo!

On a neurotic level, you can chant with mindlessly feverish intent, avoid needless travel, and hide under the bed. On a rather more fearless level, you can chant with confidence, simply being open and generous about the intrinsic "solution" to any given "problem" that comes wandering through the graveyard, be it feminine, masculine, or any permutation thereof. From a pure state, there is nothing more required. You simply let things resolve naturally.

How can this be?

In the useful little commentary we have linked, one finds the notion that any seemingly unpleasant or sticky circumstances are both the cause and result of stirring up the mamos [Tib. ma mo]. The mamos, in turn, are defined this way:
"Mamos" refers to a wrathful "feminine" force, which is sometimes protective, but frequently destructive. The dharmapalas, especially the feminine wisdom dharmapalas, like Vetali and Ekajati, have hosts of mamos in their retinue.
A very dear friend of mine once asked me how to translate "mamo." I told him there was no convenient translation. You often see mamo translated as "witch," but this won't do. You can see "wrathful feminine deities," but this is not on mark: mamos can be worldly, other-worldly, and unique. The helpful Rigpa Wiki tells us: 
The mamos are considered to be among the main natural forces which may respond to human misconduct and environmental misuse by creating obstacles and disease.
Using the operative phrase "main natural forces" as a point of departure, and noting the cause and result aspect, maybe we can say that mamos represent the creative potency of immanent spontaneity. This can be true spontaneity, or it can be appropriated, twisted, filtered, edited, and bowdlerized to fit our egocentric notions of what is "this" and what is "that:" our faulty "logic" based on memorized rules acquired in the dark of dualism. In the case of true spontaneity -- in the case of leaving it all alone; of no more tinkering -- no harm, no foul. 

In the case of the latter?

A lot of trouble, really.

If you can quell the riot in yourself, there will be no need for Rangers. There will be nothing to see. Otherwise, as the above mentioned commentary suggests:
[A]t our level, "passion", or the feminine principle, functions as a force of creating harmony, friendship, and connectedness, in relationships and family, in community, between self and nature, and between mind and body. When the basic energy gets twisted further through the ego's centralization, it can become hunger, paranoid and jealous desire, manipulative, exploitative, or hypnotic energy, predatory seduction and betrayal, and so on.
In essence, we are talking about falling prey to our own weakness; our own sneakiness, or what might be colorfully known as "wiles:" our useless art of messing with perfection, of trying to enforce our will where (and when) we have absolutely no business enforcing anything. If we have a running tab of the weak and sneaky, it adds itself up as winter passes into spring, and the new year dawns. 

If we've made a career of weak and sneaky, then this is the season when we might well find ourselves taken abed with a virus that is its own cause and effect.

A virus the cure of which calls for nothing save its own cessation.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

4 reader comments:

Rulief said...

Although, as you say it is not exactly the right translation for mamo, Donovan's "Season of the Witch" seems an appropriate theme song for the Don season. As always your perspective is refreshing and liberating. I'm so glad you're back at the keyboard.

Editor said...

Nice to see you, and thank you for your kind words. You know, I was going to title the post, "Season of the Witch," but gender specificity has already ruined many a dharma diatribe beyond redemption.

snakespeak said...

Wow! This is verifiable in my own experience. It was especially bad this year and the entanglement of self issues certainly created the anxiety, depression and general suffering. The cessation requires strong intent and letting go at the same time. Thanks for alerting me as to what was happening.

gracious.chi said...

Thank you so much......very helpful information for the feminine!