Understanding Sati and Samadhi in Meditative Practice

When mindfulness (sati) is continuous, then (samadhi) STABILITY OF MIND will become established–from the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, a Theravadan Buddhist monk and well-known and highly respected meditation teacher.

Deeper and deeper into the teachings of Buddhism, there is this ‘me’ attempting to walk in the steps of the Buddha.  No, this is not about religion–more about psychology . . . study of the mind.  We all have one but how many of us really observe how the mind works?  How to use the mind in a way that serves the greater good, so-to-speak.  That’s where I’m coming from.

Recently, a new level of understanding and wisdom arrived within my life spectrum, this continuation of consciousness.

Anyone who knows of this ‘me’ probably knows of the difficulty experienced due to moving from places of quiet and solitude for nearly 20 years.  The short version has to do with the difficulty adjusting to suddenly being around noisy humans and family drama.  Moving closer to my daughters has been wonderful in so many ways, but not without the challenges that come along with sudden change.  Here’s what I’m trying to get at . . .

Until my recent study, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that the states of Samadhi established in meditation could be maintained during regular activities of daily living,  outside of a formal meditative state–in other words, off the cushion.  Yet, while living in the mountains many times was there in a stable mind-state without knowing it.   I’ll explain more in a moment.  Additionally, in recent days my study has uncovered another real eye-opener. And that has to do with percentages of attachment equaling the same percentage of aversion.  Here’s what that means . . .

The attachment that has been present to a personal desire and preference for silence has been way too strong or large.  As a result, the aversion or anger to it’s opposite (loud neighbors) has been equally as strong.  It goes back to the basic core phrase we always hear, “Accepting what ‘is'”.  It’s not so easy to accept anything as it is when you have a high percentage of attachment to its opposite.

Of course, there are other factors that filter into the equation of imbecile aversion which include a high level of sensitivity that comes along with open awareness.  Making peace with it while maintaining a stable mind is my continual challenge and the area of focused work in this life.

When living in the mountains, days on end of samadhi, stable mind, occurred — it was as if living in my own hermitage or retreat center.   It is only now that the realization comes that when the mind was pulled into worry about finances or when going into town and mingling with humans that the state dissolved and aversions and defilements arose within the mind. I didn’t think of it as samadhi at the time.  My personal definition of that word involved deep stillness (not necessarily awareness) in which there was no awareness of a self at all.  A new or an additional understanding of the word is the stability of mind, maintained over long periods of time toward the goal of having a stable mind indefinitely or at all times.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, some days it has felt impossible but it always comes down to this moment here now . . .  being aware, mindful or aware of what the mind is doing this very moment.  Being fully in it and observing what the mind and body are doing or the reactions–watching those.

Watching the mind can be a real sport if one’s heart is into it.  Stop a moment and ask yourself, Am I aware?” 

The answer is always Yes, don’t you see?  You will find that there is always that overseer called awareness.  How deep is the awareness?  Is it superficial or is there recognition and acknowledgment of thinking whenever it arises. Is there recognition of sound, feeling (all of the senses) whether pleasant or unpleasant as those arise?  Can you remember in the midst of any aversion that begins to arise that it is only nature happening and not personal?  Neither are your reactions–that’s just nature happening too.

These are just a few of my personal thoughts and experiences on these subjects for any reader’s discernment or consideration.  

Repetitive Life Patterns

Patterns. Where does one start? They’re everywhere it seems–these life patterns! Astro Study and Dharma Study are both clear about them.  I’ve studied them through the dharma talks given by eastern teachers but noticed them long before any formal studies.  And the astrological study, you know planetary movements, has also supported my observations about patterns too–the same planet in the same place as it moves around the zodiac.  Luminary Moon hits the same digs every month and the Sun every year and so on; each planet moving at different speeds but as they aspect one another, they tend to produce the same type of event or experience.  The Facebook “On This Day” Memories application submits to you a list of all posts you made on that day and includes re-posts from that day in previous years.  Patterns are clearly there from my very own posts blatantly screaming back at me, “Notice!”

Patterns! A head cold or medical issue repeating the same time each year, moving during the same month (sometimes to the day) in certain years–it goes on ad nauseum:    neighbor issue, financial concern, trips with family, even weather systems which have not to do with my own personality.

What are these anyway? I’ve come to some thoughts to put down for myself and you too if you are still reading this.  Karma!  But hold on buster–not in the way most people think of the word.  It’s only a word that means “action” and is a result of “causes and conditions”, some of which are not personal.

Better not to complicate this bit of writing (which I don’t intend to go on much longer here); therefore, best not to get into an explanation of the non-self.  So, just sticking to the causes and conditions bit, accumulated energy will tend to repeat at times when conditions support it to do so.

Why does it repeat?  I’m going to narrow it down to the undesirable parts–those parts about the personality that makes me cringe to think about them. Those patterns–that’s where this post is headed.  There a good patterns too which we are creating in each and every moment actually, but . . .

Focusing further on the patterns such as anger at certain things or we could use a nicer word:  aversions.  I don’t want to deal with those anymore but causes and conditions accumulate to store those patterns, those aversions and surprisingly there are times they find their way to the surface from deep down in ground consciousness.

It seems that past conditions have caused me to react with aversion and it has become a habit, a pattern that has been repeated  And it’s not been until my later years here (late bloomer), that there’s not even been a conscious connection.

Now I see the pattern or one could say there is now a ‘me’ who is aware of them and with that awareness comes the observer–this creating distance between the aversion and the awareness. Sometimes reactions still happen;  yet,  with the newly awakened awareness of the pattern which has become gradually more conscious over many years, those reactions are minimal and mostly internally worked out.  This decreases any future punch that they may hold.

How to proceed?  Its a matter of creating new causes and conditions and not taking the old karma personal.  When the aversion arises, one can realize that it comes from prior reactions that have been stored — maybe not even from the current lifetime.  Who knows?  Anyway, its what this person (personality named Joy) has to deal with, but it isn’t me and isn’t personal and it does not really come from “now”–it arises from past causes and conditions (karma), remember?

What of it?  The idea is to begin to create new causes and conditions, stronger than the old perhaps and certainly more imbued with love, joy, compassion, patience and the numerous good qualities and virtues we desire to embrace which increase our happiness and peace.  New actions, new karma!  And also the goal is to have compassion for the personality self.  And by doing this we achieve the desire remain awake for the benefit of all others as well as the self here.

That which recognizes the pattern of aversion or even responds to the aversion has no aversion.  

How to remain awake?  Here we go! Back on the bandwagon about meditation.  And meditation simply means being aware of what is going on inside one’s own head and heart.  Not getting carried away by fantasy or letting thoughts drag you all over the darn place!

I do write newsletters frequently that include a lot of information regarding awareness and meditation since it’s a huge part of psychic development.

There. We’re at the end of the post and worked it out for us maybe.  Yes? Well, no matter (pun intended)–gave it a whirl and gave the self a talking to at the same time.

Oh, here is a link to all those newsletters that were just mentioned:  CLICK HERE to see this list of their links and you can sign up for the newsletters HERE.

Peaceful Reflection in Post Aversion and more on karmic tendencies

Not all apartments here are created equal, nor are all karmic imprints the same!
Not all apartments here are created equal, nor are all karmic imprints the same!

This post is me being bare-to-the-bones honest.  Sharing what I’m learning on this journey.  You may remember the posts since last year have reflected my struggle with… well,  straight to the point shall we?

Not all apartments are created equally, nor do all humans carry the same karmic imprints and tendencies in consciousness.

My inner question over many months involved knowing on deep levels that every irritating sound (or even smell; well, maybe especially smell) was illusion and my response of intense aversion to it was of course of my own making.

The sounds is ‘me’ and the smells are ‘me’ but at the same time in conventional reality obviously coming from the source of the downstairs neighbors.  For months on end, I realized this and argue with self, “…but it is so real (the loud voices the curry/garlic stink),… so real for something that is an illusion!

How could this be me when everything that remains of me that is still sane indicates the opposite?  

I knew the truth of it but the aversion was so strong that the reality of it increased in proportion and the whole thing kept feeding itself.  By the way, since moving I’ve learned that the apartment building itself where this experienced hell-realm is located is cheap construction and the townhouse I’m in now has very good soundproofing. Our neighbor to the right (this is a 2-level townhouse) consists of 3 people and a dog and we never hear a word, nor do the 3 of us living in this townhouse even hear one another’s TV or words from room-to-room or from upper-to-lower level.  So life is much more pleasant as far as that goes.   Not all apartments and townhouses in this complex are equal.

The other apartment  situation may have been karmic but it provided me the stimulus to ask more deeply about the nature of reality and the nature of mind.  I would never, ever wish to repeat it but I do see how the experience benefited my evolution.  

I knew deeply then as I always have in my core being that the external sounds, smell, appearances were empty and coming from the mind but the aversion was so strong… it was very confusing and I resisted it desperately causing myself compounded suffering.

The thing is when we look at something in meditation, we see the appearance of it in the mind.  Sounds, smells, all senses are this way.  The mind interprets everything and assigns meaning or judgment to it…  “i.e. this is pleasant, this is horrible, etc.”

And when we try to find the consciousness that see’s and interprets the energy, when we try to find the visual consciousness or the auditory consciousness or the olfactory/sense of smell consciousness that is doing the looking or receiving the smell, we cannot find it.   Mostly because it is constantly changing and in Buddhist terms it is “empty”.

Being a psychic this is known to me and seen in my work–energy is constantly changing and what we perceive is not the true nature of things, it is only our own perceptions which are deeply ingrained patterns (see last blog post)… latent karmic imprints.  

I have to admit here that there is difficulty in explaining in this written word what I know and what  am learning here now, post-aversion, in my continued  reflection and further study of  Tibetan Buddhism.  It’s complicated on one hand and so simple on the other!  All the Libra energy in me can hold the paradox but my Mercury in Scorpio feels it and has trouble with the words.

I realize even more clearly now that the sounds and smells [from my boisterous and cooking Indian downstairs neighbors and the guitar-singing neighbor who followed] were all simply energies which hit my senses that these sense consciousnesses had absolutely no opinion of those sounds or smells.

And further, and more importantly, I realize with more clarity that  it was my mind that  was giving it whatever meaning it had back then which was that of extreme aversion.

For another person with different karmic imprints, the situation would perhaps even been pleasant (although that’s hard to imagine) or at least the aversion may not have been as strong.

Why would it differ?  All those latent karmic imprints and tendencies were awakened and it seemed very difficult to have control over my intense aversions.  I am not making excuses, I’m demonstrating, hopefully, how something pleasant or unpleasant (attractions/aversions) may differ with person-to-person based on the karmic tendencies in ground consciousness [see last blog post].

Back then, I kept thinking [getting the thought]–this smell is ‘me’ and their yelling in Hindi is ‘me’ but (at the same time) how can that possibly be?    Karmic habituation of interpreting certain energy a certain way is part of the answer.

I don’t have all the answers but it’s all getting clearer now that I am in a new setting where peaceful reflection is possible.

(I share this in the hope that it may serve or be helpful in some way to another out in cyber world who may be experiencing any type of difficulty or confusion.  May we all be brought to clarity and contented happiness and freedom from all suffering and causes of suffering.) 

 

Fear can be the guru that helps awaken but will it ever go away? Dealing with fear and The Two Truths

What if it doesn't work out?
What if I don’t have enough?

Last evening after a ‘house-tidy’ and a glance at the bills and monies, that last part tickled and awakened ‘the familiars’ that rest in the stomach pit area; and while they are definitely weakening as I age, they don’t seem to cease entirely.  And maybe they never will.   I’ve learned to live with their now-and-again visits, those familiars!

What do those fear-familiars want?  I think to be acknowledged, recognized for the purpose of deeper realization and awakening.

“Okay”, I say, “but just for a little while and then I’m going out the door for a walk.”

I knew it would work–the walk. That was my intuition, my inner guide making that known.

It was a brisk, windy October night and it could not have been clearer to me that I needed to walk out the door after I dealt with them.

I think it was teacher Ajahn Chah who said that it is okay to get some control of where your mind goes by shouting at yourself.  I’m not into that exactly,  but I get the point he was trying to make about discipline of the mind–in fact I’ve been writing about that in my blog and newsletter lately.

What’s the point of being here in this reality in these (many times) trying circumstances?  And don’t’ forget we have beautiful experiences too which balance them out.   And actually the idea overall or what is recommended by the spiritual teachers is to take neither polarity too seriously, meaning the good or the bad–not getting attached to either one.  Good times, bad times—attach to neither.

Oh, here’s another example.  For instance, we can take love and hate–those polarities too.  We suffer if we attach too greedily to either emotion.  If we attach excessively to family, lovers and friends, when there is death or change (and there inevitably is—remember about impermanence?), this turns to suffering.  So that’s what I mean.  Not saying we shouldn’t love one another but not in extreme ways.

Well, getting back to it now….  the point of or purpose of these fear guru’s in our lives  (and yes, fear can be our teacher)  is to teach us—remind us really because we already know this but forgot—about the impermanence of life and those things that we over-identify with  which aren’t real yet when we think they are.  And that, in a nutshell, causes our suffering.

For me it always brings me back to the two truths of conventional and ultimate reality–with that understanding the mind becomes comfortable and at peace.

We, in our conversations with our fear, realize that we become attached to seeing our life a certain way and then we become attached to that view, you see?  We can explain that to our fears and they say, “Thank you, we simply forgot.”

Circumstances that are difficult help us to awaken; otherwise we would remain in blissful sleep.  Life difficulties help us to work through and work out those issues that keep us from developing virtue.

Yeah, and that reminds me of it.  Of what?  One of my early channeling sessions my communication was spirit involved my question—why are we here?  What’s the purpose?  And the answer I received seemed too simple then and I nearly discarded it but always kept it on a shelf in my mind and over the years with all my spiritual study and life experience (today I have reached my double 6 birthday, so I have a little of that)… anyway, in all that I’ve studied and lived that answer, being here to develop virtue, makes more-and-more sense.  It gets clearer every year—virtue.  Like what?  Well, patience is a virtue and what are some of the rest?

Well, here’s the great Benjamin Franklin’s list of virtues:

  1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Well that gives you one idea–there are many virtues.

Developing the virtues is basically about being the best human you can be–which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Anyway..,.

Going back to the topic here, let me add that it helps for me to think in terms of the reasons for what is happening; and so then I think difficulties are there to help awaken us to the ultimate reality, otherwise we may never get it.

So my glance at the bills and money situation ultimately caused a moment of remembering and deeper awakening thanks to the tea with the fear gurus.

And then I bounced down the steps and out the door into the night air, breathing deeply into the wind, shaking my shoulders.  I shook my head too in order to wobble and jiggle away the tears that had been forming behind the throat and eyes.

I walked into the darkness having another conversation…. this time with my inner guide, my wisdom guru.  Although I remained a bit unsteady emotionally for a while, that was further remedied by my guide (after our talk) then suggesting a pop-in surprise visit with my sister and niece.  So I walked to their door and knocked.   We caught up with things and then ordered pizza (which was not that good for my trim and slim goals) yet was totally and completely soul-satisfying.  I must say the Pizza Hut pineapple pizza was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed each bite!  So…
What’s the moral of the story?

I think that the old seeds and old fear habits are always there, but that’s not  “who we are” since essentially there is no self.  And because that is so, those seeds and habits are just life being what life is—the nature of human existence.

Our body and emotional nature contain those habits because we are human, but we don’t have to over-identify with it all.

Why?  Because ultimately there is no self.

But while we are here in human form we still make efforts to be the best human we can be.  How do we do that?  Where and when distress appears we do our best to transcend it.  It is called transcending the world and destroying delusions. 

“No mud, no lotus”—this is a saying that we could translate into “No fear/distress, no awakening”.   You disagree?  You say your life is nothing but total bliss and you’ve reached enlightenment 24-7?  Hmmmm….. give that one a bit more thought because you may be simply asleep.  Just sayen’.

Earth living and it’s downers are what keep us having realizations, keep us awake, help us to learn to breathe in and out in the present moment, releasing attachment, aversions, fears.  One does get to have time-outs, rest periods, of course; but then it seems to come again for us on deeper levels like peeling layers of an onion.

Don’t get too full of ego and mistake the rest and recovery period for enlightenment–through observation it seems to me that the universe loves nothing more than to crush smug ego’s.

Maybe that’s why those ‘familiars’ don’t seem to completely ever go away, they’re always there lurking–to help us stay aware, remain humble, and so that we do not fall into lazy patterns (see above paragraph).

But none of this is who I am… the “I AM” that is beyond, beyond, completely beyond just observes this and smiles.

Further, I don’t need to become attached either way and that’s where the peace is located–in that place of non-attachment.

No aversion, no attraction.

Yes, yes, we have to deal with that which everyone else (and a part of us) agrees is conventionally real, but ultimately none of it exists.  Outwardly we have to agree; after all, when my rent is due (which is the thought that started this blog post!), I cannot go into the rental office to tell the Lords of the Land that ultimately neither they, nor I, nor the apartment itself exists and therefore, I don’t need to pay my rent.  Outwardly I have to agree, but inwardly I know the truth.  That’s the “pickle” (as the saying goes) that many of us light-workers (as they call us) live within.

Fear guru’s help us to remember these things.  My personal fear guru?  Oh, he’s much gentler and kinder than he used to be; but still I don’t like his presence at any time whatsoever!  Yet, the tea and cookie that I give him and little talk we have seems to comfort him (and me too-wink!) so that then we can resume the life-game here with greater ease!

Let the games begin!—that is what I say to myself when I wake up in the morning sometimes, mostly when I’m not so afraid.

Blowing Your Spiritual Cover and Personal Integrity September 5, 2013 Daily Divination

10 of PentaclesAwareness—it’s awesome realizations; yet, because we are aware and realize something about ourselves doesn’t mean we have reached full enlightenment—it means we are aware of the path.  And excuse me if you are already fully enlightened but most of us go day-by-day doing the best we can, often reacting to life before, knowing we’re reacting.  But that’s okay or at least Pema Chodron says so.

Her recommendation is to say, “May this person who is driving me crazy enjoy happiness and be free of suffering” even though at the time what we are experiencing is genuine anger.  It always makes me feel sheepish when I remind myself that it is self-cherishing that is the root of my problem—that usually puts the fires of anger and frustration out easily.  And then I want to kick myself for reacting to a strong aversion in the first place.

We have our limits as humans it seems.  We can open to some people, but we remain closed to others—the ones who irritate us.

Awareness is seeing this clearly and realizing firsthand that as humans we are, as Pema says, “…a paradoxical bundle of rich potential that consists of both neurosis and wisdom.”

The thing is that we must acknowledge where we are and what we feel—it is so inauthentic and psychologically damaging (in my humble opinion) to pretend to feel anything that we don’t.

I can seem to feel more love, empathy and compassion for my daughter’s cats than I can for my downstairs neighbors!  I tried to muster up those feelings that I have for those animals and then transfer that same feeling to my irritating neighbors—no can do!  I just can’t seem to put these irritating people in the same place in my heart as the beautiful animals that I so love—I had to toss them right out.  I will keep trying and will let you know how it goes.

I am closed off there and need to keep working at it to open up and resolve my aversions—that’s what awareness can mean.  Oh, yeah, I try to tell myself that they are just like me and like the Dalai Lama says, we are all seeking happiness.  It’s just that their version of happiness and mine are apparently in dire contrast and opposition; perhaps it’s cultural but then again “when in Rome” as the saying goes.

I realize this is more aversion to humans and the epitome of resistance to them but I was thinking that I’ve got to start incorporating flip turns into my swimming routine.  Talk about human in your face!  When I got to the pool yesterday all the lanes were free, but for one.  I selected the last lane and started my swim.  About 20 minutes into my swim as I reached the wall to initiate my turn, there it was!

A man’s face in front of my own, asking to swim in my lane with me; all of the other lanes were filled with men and maybe he felt it was easier to ask a woman—who knows his motives? And who cares? But I felt immediate aversion to having to share my lane—why me?  He didn’t swim long but I realize that I have a lot of work to do in that area also; it’s just that (watch me try to justify my aversion now) when I swim it is like a meditation and one really would rather not be interrupted.  But that’s life—it’s what happens to us while we’re doing our own thing; human interference.  I’ve got to learn to be better at sharing my sacred spaces with other humans I guess…. Well, obviously.  I don’t like feeling irritated and would rather be happy and peaceful—that requires getting over my ego and self-cherishing!

I think to write about it and how these humans get under my skin so-to-speak is blowing my cover!  I’m human too and we all have an ego with aversions and attractions—when I lived in the mountains alone I could, for the most part, pretend that I wasn’t one of them!  Ha ha.

Well, humor is a gift from the Angels that helps us cope here.

Today, I will ask the Angels of Laughter to hang 10 with me through the ocean of life… or at least through my apartment living and my lap swimming at the pool.  I hit my toe on the side of the metal filing cabinet this morning as I made my way to my desk with my first cup of coffee while at the same time feeling resentful for being awakened by neighbor’s voices!

It’s a beautiful sunny day and we started out in the high 60’s, low 70’s this morning.  I made good progress on the project I’m creating for my daughter’s wedding gift and still wish that I could be half as artistic as my middle daughter (not the one getting married).  My middle child draws beautifully freehand and oh how I admire her ability to do that!

I just opened a desk drawer and the fragrance of Nag Champa incense cones (that I forgot I had) greeted me (I love Nag Champa) and may today be filled with such continued pleasant surprised for everyone!

DAILY DIVINATION SEPTEMBER 5, 2013 – TEN OF PENTACLES TAROT CARD

This card makes me think of the 11th House in Astrology, relating to the community.  I think of it too as “growing roots” in the community and creating a stable and comfortable environment. The 10 of Pentacles deals with the domestic life and living life upon the earth and represents “the good life”.  The deep connection to The Universe exists within the ordinary life—through this card I am reminded that the troubles and miseries that occupy many human minds (my own included) are only a play and the community plays a role for us in presenting that which we must free ourselves.

As I finished that last sentence a hummingbird was flying a holding pattern within a few feet of my laptop just on the other side of the glass door, looking at me directly.  Reminds me to be joyful and to find the nectar of life and drink heartily from that fountain.  Hummingbirds are symbolic for accomplishing that which seems impossible.

May you always feel encouraged!

What would a Bodhisattva do about loud neighbors? And the resulting Anger? And Self-Cherishing? Living Buddhism

Living Buddhism

What would a Bodhisattva do about loud neighbors?

And the resulting Anger?

And Self-Cherishing?

Bodhisattvas cave muralYeah, I’ve been kvetching about the loud neighbors but rest assured I’ve been not only externalizing a solution but internalizing one too.  I’ve used the scrape-your-fingers-down-the-chalkboard type of setting your teeth on edge irritation as charnel ground meditation; but even there one knows the exit or path that takes one away from that graveyard—in case it becomes too much, we need an escape button, don’t we?

Is it any co-incidence that as I consider those matters, I’m also contemplating death, dying in such a way that one can be liberated while still living and breathing?  Well, as much as one can anyway.  And I’m having a more serious look at The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva.  Factor that into the loud Indian neighbor situation, the contemplation on death—stir well and sprinkle with a generous handful of Practice #20.

Most blog readers will know the meaning of the word Bodhisattva but the short version of a definition is spiritual practitioner—practice of compassion for altruistic benefits.  The 37 Practices describe the enlightened qualities of an aspirant (my own words) which come about due to causes.  (Causes such as loud, boisterous, inconsiderate neighbors?)  And in the list of the practices we see definite references to those types of situations and how to integrate these difficulties of earth living into spiritual practice.

I clearly realize the ‘enemy’ if there is one in my situation with the frustrating irritations of the neighbors is within me, totally, entirely, and completely.  I got that part; so no finger-pointing please.

Do I run from it, push it away or go toward it or do nothing?  I’ve sat with it and the aversion is so great that I think I may cry if I do not put on the white noise so I cannot hear it.  I’d be the first one to run down the path and back to the monastery if I had do to real live grave-yard charnel practice!

I don’t think there’s any teaching that says that the thing that drives you the most crazy you should go seek it out just to see if you can handle it—or maybe there is and I’m wrong about that.

If you want to talk about aversion for a second—let’s do.  My aversion is to myself for having the reactions of intense, acute and profound irritation to their voices in the first place.

Before you start thinking it, let me say that I know it all comes from self-cherishing and self-grasping and attachment to an idea that my living quarters should be completely free from gawd-awful vocal intrusions. Got that too!

The wisdom teachers say that when we cave and just “can’t deal”, to use the situation to bring up compassion for all others who have the same situation in life. One great comfort is that if we reflect for even a nano-second we realize we are not alone in our suffering, whatever it is, no matter what!  With (what is the number we hear others give?) something like 6-million –or is that billion?–people on earth, there has to be at least one (and usually thousands) who are going through that exact same situation right at that exact same moment.

This brings comfort—we are not alone.  So then we bring up the ole’ catholic training and say I will suffer this and for all who suffer for the suffering souls including myself.   It gives the suffering (which is plainly everywhere on Earth, look around) a purpose, a meaning and brings it into a workable (at least for me) and relative perspective.

There’s a certain surrender in that—grant me the serenity to deal with what I cannot change.  I’ve changed what I could already—speaking to them directly (which was like speaking to a wall that is in denial that it’s a wall – for lack of a better example), and I’ve tried speaking to the management and one night I took the management’s suggestion and called the police to give them the word.  They were screaming after all and it was well after midnight and I even brought the altruistic reason into that one—“I do this act of calling the police for all the neighbors, not just myself.”

Oh, sure I can have compassion for the couple—of course.  I think they drink or drug a lot especially if you consider loud never ending conversations a drug.  And they are in a strange country – from India and you know we all have problems.  It’s not hard for me to feel compassion in those ways.  But sometimes my own frustration and self-cherishing and attachment to how I think my life should be when it isn’t gets the best of me and it seems a simple thing not to have un-welcomed human voices permeating my living space.

So yeah, I crank up the white noise (see my last blog post) as my escape valve.

But what about death? I mean that’s one experience where there IS no escape valve really.  I mean we have to deal with it and can’t go anywhere else then or we can’t turn up the white nose to drown it out.  It’s intense and frightening and irritating and we have to really let go of self-cherishing at that time, don’t we?  Well, if we don’t we suffer more.  I’m reading The Tibetan Book of the Living and The Dying (again) and this is my 2nd go at the modern version of the text by Songyal Rinpoche.  It’s more a text about living but the stages of dying are fully described both from the perspective of the dying person and the family and caregivers.  Really useful stuff for when a family member dies or we ourselves—our time will come.

How can I let go when I really need to if I cannot let go in this situation with my neighbors?  I’m working on all that.

Meanwhile, I do love the references to the point in the death process when we reach such a state of luminosity of mind that the – well, the Buddhist call them the 3 poisons leave us completely.  We can get there in this life and do if we’re successful with our meditation practice.  We reach a state where there are no attachments, and it is give a name by the wisdom teachers:  sky consciousness.  The three poisons (anger, ignorance and desire) —gone!  Have you been there to that place? A peaceful lifestyle helps and a crazy couple from India who rocks your world doesn’t!

Let me take a breather to say that I’m grateful they go to work during the day and I’m grateful for when they run their central air unit (even if they have it on fan which I’ve enlightened them about doing).  For when we both have it running, I barely hear them.  I say barely and again it’s not their fault or mine this building that we over-pay in rent to live within is so poorly insulated (paper thin walls).  I’m grateful for electricity and I’m grateful for the fact that they’re gone during the day; thank you thank you thank you thank you!  Amen.

I don’t like my inner reaction and if I’m honest it’s the first of the 3 poisons that most Buddhist text refers to—anger.  Their anger triggers my own?  Maybe?  I don’t know exactly.  But I don’t like that intense feeling that makes me feel like I’m about to lose control.  Like fingernails down a chalkboard I want to cover my ears and run; but HA, I live here!  Some things you can’t run from and this situation as well as my own eventual death someday down the line is another something that I cannot run from.

All this is preparing me I’m sure; everything is somehow always inner-related.  I looked up The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva online (http://www.dharmadhatu-center.org/the_37_practices_of_a_bodhi.html).  I’m sure I have a Book on the 37 Practices here somewhere on my bookshelf; later today I will try to find it.  (Note to self to do that!)

I should blog my way through the 37 practices as I deal with the hell realms below me (downstairs neighbors).  In the end, it may help me to be able to die well and use that moment-of-death that they talk about to enhance enlightenment.

So anyway for now, for today, OM MANI PADME HUM, what about Practice #20?

Practice 20
Taming the mind
If you have not tamed the enemy of your own anger,

Combating outer opponents will only make them multiply.

Therefore, with an army of loving kindness and compassion,

To tame your own mind is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

Generally we think we must defeat outer opponents. If only we could get rid of them, we would be happy. Or so we believe. But we cannot overcome all adversaries, and when we try, their numbers just increase. At first we have one, then two, then many. So what are we to do? The only solution is to tame our anger, tame our mindstream through bodhichitta. Armed with the attitude of loving kindness and compassion, we naturally no longer have any external enemies. Because the Great Teacher, the Buddha, the Bhagawan, had tamed his mindstream, he prevailed against the Maras who tried to distract him as he sat meditating beneath the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. The Buddha was armed with the forces of the samadhi of loving kindness, and the Maras could not harm him. The Great Yogi Milarepa tamed the enemy of ego-clinging with the force of the wisdom that realizes selflessness. And he conquered the enemy of anger with the army of bodhichitta. Because he defeated his inner foes of ego-clinging and anger, he became so skillful that even his bitterest enemies eventually became his disciples.

http://www.dharmadhatu-center.org

Maybe in my next blog post, whenever the neighbors are ranting below me (which is usually the same time I’m blogging as a coping mechanism), instead of kvetching, I’ll blog about one of The 37 Practices of the Boddhisattva.  That’s the lose plan, time permitting — stay tuned?

Let’s see if blogging my way through this can help others, I’ll do my best.

“Namaste!” which is what I said while giving a slight bow to my downstairs neighbors about 3 weeks ago (sigh!)  Meanwhile, reaching for my copy of The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying, lifting it to the sky, making a bow to you and the wisdom teachers who have gone before us…. I bid you good day!