Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Man Without a Sangha

When I first started practicing I found a group that met twice a week. It was my first real experience with working with a group. I would go twice a week for a couple of years. I made few new friends and had the opportunity to learn from a teacher who had more than 40 years’ experience. It was an excellent experience I was very grateful for it. However sometimes I still felt like I was on the outside looking in but I stuck with it because I was learning so much from them. I also felt as if a lot of people who were attending were trying to fix themselves and others were collecting knowledge, and for some it was even fashionable. I felt that those people missed the point of what the Buddha taught. Yet they needed to be there maybe even more than me.

While this was going on for them, I was finding out that I am fine the way I am, and by meditating I learned that life is an experience, and there is no separation from the experience and my perception of it. My focus was being present and just learning to observe my thoughts without judging or becoming attached to them. For me this was an amazing revelation while for others it was not enough they continued to practice but still looking for something. I understand that seekers need the practice and to learn the teaching more so they can understand. I felt I had moved in a different direction than the rest of the flock, I was a man who could see and feel freedom. I was a man without a Sangha!

I didn’t need a Sangha, or teachers, because we are all each and every one of us already completely free and perfect. Then one day the Sangha went on retreat and did not hold its regular practice. That week I realized that all living things are my Sangha, not just a small click Buddha hippies. I also realize that life or the experience of life is the teacher not a person, not even the Buddha. That was the moment that I really took refuge, refuge in the wonder of life, and the opportunity to have this experience, and learning to let go so the next moment can be…. Well as Kurt Vonnegut would say “So it goes.” .

Thanks for reading,
El Dharmarado

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Don’t call me Bodhisattva

A couple of weeks I was writing a blog post in my head about generosity and the Bodhisattva way, yet every time I sat down to write it I had a feeling that I was missing a very important point and I could not figure out what it was. Then one day I was thinking about it, and it hit me being generous is not necessarily the way a Bodhisattva rolls. For example one day I brought some Oreos to our Saturday meditation retreat and the teacher said “Ah you are a true Bodhisattva for bringing these cookies”. It is easy to see the happiness that these cookies brought the Sangha and it is easy to like somebody who gives you a free Oreo cookie. But how you cultivate that same generous loving quality towards the burglar who robbed your house while you were away? Or the guy to smashed into your car in the mall parking lot and took off without leaving a note? How about the boss that rides your ass eight hours a day so by end of your shift you feel like a broken human being? A cookie doesn’t make all that suffering go away!

For me this is where the bitter sweet truth hides in the dark recesses of my own unclean actions of the past and present. I am going to throughout a few examples from my own life. How do accept that the guy who robbed my house has the same Buddha nature as me? I think back to when I was a kid I would steal just about anything just for kicks. Most of all I would always steal my brothers weed, he was a Bodhisattva for not beating my ass for it. How do relate to the person who hit my car and took off? When I was twenty years old I totaled a VW Bug in a parking lot, I looked around nobody saw me so I bolted. I can connect with that “Oh shit, I really fucked up this time. How do I get of it?”. There is the asshole boss who won’t quit. It is hard to admit this but I am an asshole too. For example the other night my girlfriend wanted me to take her to the food store at 10:30 at night, I was not like “yes dear” I was like “Fuck this shit, I want to sleep”.

So don’t call me Bodhisattva I am a liar, thief, and asshole. It is because I see these traits in myself it allows me connect with others who have the same human nature as I do, and according the Buddha we all have Buddha nature as well. I think there is a paradox in this whole idea of a bodhisattva. When you forgive yourself, you automatically forgive others who have done the same thing to you, and vice versa when you forgive others you are also forgiving yourself. I think this is what makes a Bodhisattva different from a saint and opens the door for true unconditional compassion and love.

You can call me Liar, you can call me a thief, you can call me asshole, but don’t call me Bodhisattva because are all Buddha’s. 

Thanks for reading, El Dharmarodo

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stop nagging at me!

Today I was thinking back to when I had my first Zen experience. It was long before I knew anything about Zen or Buddhism. I was in my mid-twenties my girlfriend dumped me because she banging Steven Tyler, of all people. I was crushed and in some adolescent way I way I made things out to be much worse than they really were. My life was over. I wanted die. I was going to suffer for eternity blah blah blah… T Until one day I hanging out with my friend Ted spewing all of this emotional crud and he said to me “immerse yourself in the pain, let it wash over you, just feel it completely” I was shocked because everyone else was trying to keep me distracted from what I was feeling. That night I went home sat down ready for battle with this T-Rex sized emotion, I was prepared to be swallowed and torn apart by emotional pain. I took a deep breath opened myself up as much as could and there it was. That T-Rex was just a nagging flea of insecurity. It was not even close to what I expected. As soon as I honed in on that realization I was cool. I was even a bit annoyed with myself for allowing my emotions to get so out of hand.

Now every time I hear a Dharma talk about staying in the moment and experiencing emotions to their fullest I think back to that situation. I know now that those huge over powering emotions turn out to be nothing more than some nagging little thing, which snow balls.

I will admit even though I am armed with this knowledge a lot of time my emotions seem to grow out of control no matter how hard I try to open myself up to them. It is the ‘trying” that seems to get in the way. The trick is do this without effort, simply stay with moment as it is, that is all then let it go and allow the next moment to arise.