Wakeful Contentment: Everything is OK– You, Your Situation, The World

Everything is really OK message

We hear a good deal about “being awake” and “being present” and “being enlightened” and “mindfulness” — or at least I do.  In places where my mind hangs out (books, twitter, facebook and forums) people toss those terms around a lot — they’re prevalent.  I contemplate this a lot since like most everyone else the outer world (samsara) keeps stimulating my own inner drama and all I want is peace and happiness like everyone else.

I have to keep coming back to it.  To what?  I’m talking about that sense of well-being that comes from mindfulness and presence.

I love that sense of well-being!  That wakeful contentment!  I call it “contented happiness” because that state of being seems to be core or the baseline state once layers of  mental ‘this and that’ thin and create an opening for that state to shine through.  Its there, it’s always been there–just like the quote on mind training from Ajahn Chah (quote below) states.

And just like  Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche  says, “We are so familiar with the tumultuous reactivity of our mind that mental chaos feels quite normal.  Opposing that or the opposite polarity to that mental chaos is joy, that profound sense of well-being that comes from being in a completely wakeful state.

You know this state, right?  You must have had moments like I’m going to describe and hopefully days, weeks or months–perhaps years or a lifetime if we’re really on the path.

We drop the anxious chatter in our mind. We release a big sigh and think, “Wow, everything is really OK: me, my situation, the world.”

This becomes my new goal, my new mantra and a feeling that I intend to expand and send out to the world.  I actually read those words that are in quotes above in a book and every level of body and mind did cartwheels and acrobatics across the room!

cartwheels

YES!  I know this feeling!  this truth!  Until now, I’ve called it “contented happiness” but I do like the way it is expressed simply and recognizably:  “Wow, everything is really OK–me, my situation, the world.”

The Quote: Training this mind… actually there’s nothing much to this mind. It’s simply radiant in and of itself. It’s naturally peaceful.

Why the mind doesn’t feel peaceful right now is because it gets lost in its own moods. There’s nothing to mind itself. It simply abides in its natural state, that’s all. That sometimes the mind feels peaceful and other times not peaceful is because it has been tricked by these moods. The untrained mind lacks wisdom. It’s foolish. Moods come and trick it into feeling pleasure one minute and suffering the next. Happiness then sadness. But the natural state of a person’s mind isn’t one of happiness or sadness.

Leaf red 350 x 304
The mind is naturally calm like a leaf that is NOT being blown around


 This experience of happiness and sadness is not the actual mind itself, but just these moods which have tricked it. The mind gets lost, carried away by these moods with no idea what’s happening. And as a result, we experience pleasure and pain accordingly, because the mind has not been trained yet. It still isn’t very clever. And we go on thinking that it’s our mind which is suffering or our mind which is happy, when actually it’s just lost in its various moods.

The point is that really this mind of ours is naturally peaceful. It’s still and calm like a leaf that is not being blown about by the wind. But if the wind blows then it flutters. It does that because of the wind. And so with the mind it’s because of these moods – getting caught up with thoughts. If the mind didn’t get lost in these moods it wouldn’t flutter about. If it understood the nature of thoughts it would just stay still. This is called the natural state of the mind.

— (Ajahn Chah, Training This Mind)

The Law of Attraction and The Secret have there place, BUT…..  there is, I feel, greater accomplishment in enhancing a state of  acceptance of things just as they are. We stop reaching for what we want. We stop trying to control our comfort zone. This letting go leaves us feeling peaceful and optimistic. We have not strategized to attain this state.   It’s more like the absence of trying to manipulate or influence our circumstance.

PS — currently transiting Saturn is conjunct natal Jupiter in my 4th house.  I’m waiting for word about an apartment to open up for me.  It could be any time but waiting is challenging.  I can see how Saturn right on Jupiter is creating a delay (Saturn often is though to carry with it the archetype of ‘delay’).  The 4th house of course is about home –THE home.  This blog post is like … well, physician heal thyself.  LOL  Accepting things as they are while I wrestle with the strong inner desire to move.  I trust astrology and that Saturn delay is beneficial/Jupiter for my future housing situation.  Meanwhile, everything is really OK–me, my situation, the world.  🙂

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Impressions, Imprints, Cyber-footprints in SAMSARA

samsara2
SAMSARA and IMPERMANENCE

Impressions!  Imprints!  Cyber-footprints!

I don’t think about that often enough.  Or so I recently realized!  I tend to work through my rough days on my blog, hoping that as I do so that a reader out there somewhere may be helped through the insight that I, myself, seek.    But before going further, there must be an understanding conveyed.  One that I don’t convey as often as I should; one that should go without saying but that I forget to say–perhaps even forget to say to myself!  But look, it’s not easy to stay awake sometimes!  Life is full of … well, the most efficient way to say it is through one word SAMSARA.

Let me get an official Buddhist definition of that word [SAMSARA] and this from Wikapedia seems as good as any others from Google:  Saṃsāra (Sanskrit, Pali; also samsara) is a Buddhist term that literally means “continuous movement” and is commonly translated as “cyclic existence”, “cycle of existence”, etc. Within Buddhism, samsara is defined as the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that arises from ordinary beings’ grasping and fixating on a self and experiences. Specifically, samsara refers to the process of cycling through one rebirth after another within the six realms of existence where each realm can be understood as either a physical realm or a psychological state characterized by a particular type of suffering. Samsara arises out of avidya (ignorance) and is characterized by dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). In the Buddhist view, liberation from samsara is possible by following the Buddhist path.

I use divination to help me find peace because the process of  looking for insight puts one in the mental framework wherein one shifts or better said begins to detach from the mental affliction long enough to look for insight. [My profession involves divination after all; its a habit.  LOL.]

I’ve been conversing through private text on my Facebook account with a blog follower who summarized the last few years of my life in a few lines that made me startle a bit, thinking ‘Man o man, my life really sucks!”   But of course it doesn’t, and it is full of just as many ups, downs, attractions and aversions as anyone else’s here in Samsara!  No better or no worse, at least potentially, as anyone else’s life who is aware of their mind where it is all located anyway!

Here’s the last bit I wrote this morning, sharing a paragraph from the communication that I’ve been having with a reader:

I think one comfort is that we are never alone in what we experience since the human condition seems very universal… in that no matter what kind of dilemma one is in, one can always find so many others going through the same illusion or experiencing the same dream (or nightmare); so that on some level there is comfort when we can do as the Buddhists do which is Tonglen … basically to say, ” May all of us, may we join together , all of us, and may I be the one to gather it all up here, now;  and then may we all be free of our delusion and wake from the dream and be liberated! And how does the liberation happen”?

What kind of  liberation? Mental–for that is how it all occurs anyway, in the mind.  So, to look at life and hear, see, experience it without aversion or attachment, either one… to just say “Oh, now it is this and now it is that or now it is ‘not’  this and now it is ‘not’  that… hmmmm… okay… and that’s how it is or isn’t…. and now I notice that there is a regret thought, or a memory thought, or a judgment thought, or a happy thought, or a silly thought, or a sad thought, or whatever it is.”   Just looking at the mind.  Well, that’s pretty simplistic  sounding, but most Buddhist teachings are and that’s why I, for one,  like them. LOL I may blog this. Don’t be surprised if you see this text again!

Some  last thoughts:  IMPERMANENCE!  This is a good one to reflect upon too.  That helps put it all in perspective as well… the Buddhist perspective of the “precious human life.”   I have to often remind myself not to become caught up in self-cherishing; this, too, being the source of difficulty and suffering.  And then if all else fails, I hit the pool and go swimming to focus on my kick, stroke and lap times while everything else falls away!

Enlightenment Practice #30 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva Including Divination

Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara
Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara

The humble monk (Ngulchu Thogme) wrote the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva it in a cave in the Himalayas around the 13th century.  It’s a guide for travelers on the path to enlightenment—practically advice on how to actually live day-to-day.  Are you trying to consciously travel this path?   Me too; c’mon let’s figure this out!

So like I’ve been saying how I’m going to write about the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva (guidance to live by). You know the Dalai Lama? He is said to be the Bodhisattva of Compassion incarnate. Oh, to be like him! Anyway, I’ve got (like most of you) about 1,000 coals-in-the-fire-of –life’ as the saying goes (busy/whatever) but I want to get started here. So I’m writing numbers from 1 to 37 onto 37 small slips of paper and have now put them in a small basked. I will draw one at a time and write about that one while asking that it bring importance guidance for something currently relating to my life on the day the number is drawn!  Ready?

Divination Message 3/16/13 from the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva:  Today I’ve drawn Practice Number 30!  I don’t know these by heart, so I’ve got to grab the book and have a look; let’s together see what it says.  I guess you already know that a bodhisattva (essentially) is someone who wants to work for enlightenment not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of others in order to end suffering.  You probably already knew that.

Bodhisattva Practice #30

Reading and typing and divining as we go along here… right away I see it’s about virtue with heart.  Maybe this is about putting our whole heart into attempts to be virtuous?

Gosh, I’m remembering (flashing on) something my “spirit-guides” (as it goes) conveyed and at the time (as I did with many things then), I shrugged and felt it to be too simplistic.  You know, I was looking for something more profound after all—I was looking for something really sensational when I asked why I was here and what my purpose is.  I was told we are here to develop and practice virtue—I completely blew that off back then.  Yet, divine irony of irony, here I am studying the 37 Practices and Buddhism and that’s exactly what it’s about!

As I look at this little book of Essential Teachings (the one I carried unknowing with me for 6-weeks –see previous blog—which is the writing of the Dalai Lama himself), he’s talking about having the “right view”.  The word “view” in Buddhism (email me if I’m wrong if you’re a Buddhist monk or someone more expert than myself a humble student) has to do with understanding the nature of reality and the 8-fold path.

“Right View” as they call it has to do with the type of wisdom that has to do with understanding of things as they are which of course has to do with those 4 main truths:  there’s suffering, get real about it and then understand what causes it and the good news is that there’s a way to end it *(yay!) and following the 8-fold path enables us create that cessation.  And back to the 8 fold path again of which right view is a part.  Didn’t we just make a circle, a loop—right view leads back to right view. Ingenious!

Hey, by the way, thanks for being patient while I work through this.

Not to let all the cats out of the bag at once creating confusion but the 8 fold path (just as a preview and curiosity satisfy-er) and no, I’m not going into all this right now but they are as follows:  right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.  But hey, let’s just stick with the view for the moment—right view.  And let’s get back to the #30 practice of a Bodhisattva.

The Dalai Lama the guru teacher here says that this view in practice #30 has to do with realizing that the person who acts in any kind of way to do any kind of thing or who takes any action +plus the action itself that is taken +plus the person who may receive the action that we take don’t (in the right view) actually inherently exist.  Wow, that’s a tough one to explain to the average bear on the street human if you know what I mean!

This IS samsara after all, don’t you know?  This is a dream-like state of reality.  That is what we’re being asked to remember.  Things exist on a conventional level but ultimately—no, they don’t.  It’s really not that hard to understand with the new science where we look at atoms and the core of the atom itself doesn’t even exist only if we put our mind on it.  You know what I mean!?  You’ve heard this!  The chair you sit on or the table or any object is solid according to our perceptions but it is because the vibration is very, very, very slow.  On the quantum physics microscopic level (hope I said that right), it’s nothing but energy molecules vibrating—just a bunch of atoms which are empty at their very core!

So, let’s say you give someone a gift, you could say something like, “There is no giver, no action of giving, no gift, and no receiver of the gift”—that’s ultimate truth.  Conventionally, there is all that, but ultimately NO.  So that’s the right view of things which, if you think about it, is quite liberating and there’s a part of us that says, “Okay, I get that and now I can tell myself to stop worrying about every little thing!”  Or  that’s one view you could take and it would be ‘ultimately’ right, correct, on the quantum or ultimate level.

Whew!  Hope that makes sense.  The bottom line of this practice is:  No subject, No object.

So, what do we do?– we practice this.  We hold this in our mind and remember it and function in life with this view right alongside conventional reality—to practice this it changes our behaviors, our attitudes, and we become a teacher of the dharma (phenomenon and the truth of phenomenon) by our very being via our life being witnessed by others.

Right view is called the word “prajna” in Buddhist teachings.   If we get this one thing, in my humble opinion, it is the best thing we can understand and it really answers most any question we have about life and addresses any concern.  Upset? Worried or fearful?  Remember practice #30 of The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva – understand the emptiness of reality and shazam, this right view just calms it all right down for ya’!  Totally and fer’ real as they say! What is real isn’t real—totally dude! Samsara is an illusion.

Another way of saying it since this practice #30 is the 6th of the Six Paramitas (more on that another time)… the 30th is about cultivating  “non-conceptual superior knowledge” and in the words of the monk himself or at least one common translation:


Without superior knowledge,
it is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment through the first five paramitas alone. Therefore, joining it with skillful means and not conceptualizing about the three spheres is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

And another translation:

Since five perfections without wisdom cannot bring perfect enlightenment, along with skillful means cultivate the wisdom that does not conceive of the three spheres [as real].

Note to reader:  the three spheres in Buddhism are 1) self 2) other and 3) connecting action.

divider3-15-13

THE DIVINATION

Now.  How can I apply this personally in my own daily life?  Ha!  I’m reminded lately of the story of the monk who, so inspired by teachings on generosity, gave away his worldly possessions, two of which included his food bowl and his shoes!  Since his generosity was not accompanied by wisdom he had to ask for them back when it came time to eat and then to go somewhere!  I was very inspirit-ed to work with generosity yesterday in my efforts to be an ‘active’ Bodhisattva!  In other words, it is one thing to wish all beings be relieved of suffering and I do that plenty but what about “putting one’s money where one’s mouth is?”—as the saying goes.

I did that to the point of pain yesterday—giving when it doesn’t hurt really doesn’t count in my book.  If you’re going to give, make it a bit of a sacrifice at least!  So with that attitude, I did so in a fairly large way; in fact, I gulped hard several times in the process thinking, “Yike, I hope I’m not being like the monk who gave away his bowl.”–!!

And today’s Bodhisattva Practice 30 is a great message for me (using the 37 practices as divination messages here)!

I’m being reminded that the 3 spheres of giver, gift and receiver are not ultimately real; self, other and connecting action don’t exist;  and to remember this and embrace it is a practice of a Bodhisattva! 

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara – The Deeper in the Mud, the More Beautiful the Lotus Blooms

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Another Attempt to Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara

Can we really do this?

The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms.  How deep in the mud are you?
The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms. How deep in the mud are you?

Something is being encouraged on deeper levels and something wants to reach up out of the mud of samsara (life/earth living/the illusion of the suffering of this dimension) and is growing and reaching toward the Sun like the Lotus (the flower associated with Buddhism).

The Universe, the Light of Divine Intelligence, the Harmony of Helios or however you want to name it, but some energy encourages this, as it always does and I even carried that encouragement around in my purse/handbag for nearly 5 weeks without realizing it!

And yesterday!  Yesterday I received a reply email communication from a Tibetan Lama (the real Lama, not a secretary!)—my ego is impressed—in which the parting line was, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  And my mind and body froze as if they were my marching orders from the head spiritual warrior!—or something like that.  I felt the directive, the dictate, the command, the instruction, and the order deep within my heart, mind and soul.

“Deny samsara and help others do the same!”–  Aye aye Captain!  I was being given my marching papers or assigned my official mission from a Lama!  Ha!  And the Lama was probably simply just using a phrase to close the email with a customary, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  Sounds like a simple wish to end an email with like “sincerely” or “may you have a nice day”– but for me it stopped my breath and my world for a moment as I swallowed hard and felt like, “Okay, this is IT.” And it’s time to get dead serious about it too!  Especially since each day we get closer by-the-day to those final marching orders too.

Anyway, “dharma” is a word used to describe the teachings—practicing the dharma is doing the spiritual practices, following the teachings of Buddha who—and this is the part I love—said firstly that transformation of the mind is what is needed to alleviate suffering but most importantly he recommends examining the teachings carefully and objectively in order to know if it is something we can work with or live by or adopt.  And secondly, if we do accept the teaching it is because we have done the (here comes my favorite phrase)… we have done the observation and correlation of the teaching.  We apply it and see if there’s any truth to it through our own objective life experience and then if it turns out to be helpful and works for us, then (and only then) do we accept it as part of our own truth.  Then, thirdly, we have the responsibility to put it into practice—to live the teaching.

When we do this, we create “bodhichitta” which is the mind of awakening or the enlightened mind that strives toward compassion for the benefit of all sentient (living) beings. It is a sudden and lasting compassion for all beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently-existing self.  That last part is a kicker and I’ve been working on that one for some good long time now but since the purse-thing, finding that I’ve been carrying around the help for weeks now, is another strong synchronizing “hint” of encouragement.

One day shortly after I broke my toe (don’t ask) and while accompanying my daughter on some errands found myself at our local Goodwill store looking at the dusty old book section (no surprise, right?)  Lo and behold I found a little book with a picture of the Dalai Lama on the front and the book was entitled “Essential Teachings”.  Next thing you know my daughter calls out, “C’mon Mom we’re ready to go, are you ready?”  Making my way to the checkout I pay something like 50 cents for the book, slide it into my purse/handbag and forgot about it.

In the meanwhile, 6 weeks later here, I’m watching a DVD of a Buddhist Lama teaching the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and although it wasn’t the first time I viewed it, and even though I have a good number of Buddhist books on the shelf in my apartment (and have read every one!), this time something really caught hold of me.  That Lama seemed to explain it so well this time when I listened–and it was the very same Lama who gave me my mission via the email signature!

I’ve read the translations of The Middle Way:  Nargajuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika and a number of books like it including quite few on Mahamudra.  We also have ‘A Guide to the Boddhisattva Way of Life” by Shantideva to name a few.  And I’ve spent hour upon hour viewing of teachings on DVD of the Dalai Lama on these very topics and teachings.  This is conveyed, least you think that the path is very new–I’ve been traveling this way for a while and integrating Buddhism gradually.  Anyway, so much for history…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

A few days ago, I thought to blog about the Thirty Seven Practices (dharma teachings) to help myself and others—although I should have phrase that the other way around I suppose; but you get the idea.  And from that thought, I began to wish to have these practices written down in a simple form just the way the Lama spoke about them. Well, I thought, why not look to see what’s out there from the Lama of Lamas:  His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet!  He says things so simply and he makes everything so easy to understand!

I could not find anything online and then had to stop my search anyway to go pick up my niece from her High School Driver’s Education Class.  I didn’t want to be late.  Once I got there,  putting the car in park, and taking a breath, then found myself wishing I had a book along with me to read while I waited for my niece.

Then (light bulb turns on in the mind!) remembering that I had that old book from the Goodwill Store—the one I’d paid 50 cents for so many weeks ago—I smiled and pulled it out.  I looked at the chapter headings and felt so moved and smiled  from my heart seeing how this book by the Dalai Lama contains 37 chapters–each chapter being one of the 37 practices explained in his own simple words!  There it was, just exactly what I was looking for and I had it with me all along.  When the student is ready, the teacher… well, you know.

So I will be working with these now and blogging about them.   Time’s up for now.  If you follow along with future blogs, maybe (just maybe) we can do more to further create a ‘mind of awakening’ as we practice the dharma here.

“May all beings benefit from my practice of the dharma”–just like the Lama says!

Not a creature was stirring, not even… Let Kua 21’s truth be heard! Confront life’s issues with detachment and do what needs doing!

Take decisive action!  Restore order! Apply force with sensitivity! It’s about a tenacious devotion to a task!  Yeah, that’s the message for today and here’s how it is applying to my life, my issue, my apparent delusion of samsara. May the core theme of guidance help you in some way too!  I’m at the end of the rope and am hanging out waiting for them to arrive so I turned to the I-Ching.   Waiting for who?  Keep reading… it’s about some company coming and other company leaving–quite the drama! Having a free moment, I turned to the ancient divination system for guidance or support—what do YOU have to say about this I thought.

The hexagram of Biting Through points to a time when it is imperative to take swift and decisive action to redefine and reform your approach. The harmonious unfolding of your life has become blocked and the responsibility is yours to correct the imbalance. Once it becomes obvious that something isn’t right, getting to the crux of the matter promptly should be your top priority.

Push through obstacles; vigorous measures must be taken–the time for deliberation is over, but do so in the right way.

Today’s DIVINATION MESSAGE:  Today, confront all apparent problems that arise and putting aside all anxiety, do what needs to be done–confront life’s issues with emotional detachment and honesty.  Emotion will cloud the ability to see clearly.  Stick with the facts.  Self-assurance and determination are keys to implement changes as thoroughly and painlessly as possible.

Again, this comes from I-Ching Kua 21 which is called “Biting Through” and has to do with punishment that is certain and swift.  Can you believe that I find this message comforting?

Maybe you can understand if I tell you this much of the famous night before Christmas story… “…not a creature was stirring, not even a….”….EEEeeeeeeeek, a mouse! 

I’ve tried—truly I have.  The strict Buddhist would find a problem with it and at first I tried to ignore the whole thing—i.e., no, I didn’t just hear something in the attic.  Oh, well, maybe one small mouse just trying to be out of the cold and get warm.  I have compassion, truly I do! 

If you only knew how many times I would gently take a wayward spider or cricket or once even a wasp out the door chanting OM MANI PADME HUMBe on your way tiny Buddha, I’d say while helping them back outside.

Yes, the Buddhist won’t even kill ants.  And you know the story of the worms from the movie starring Brad Pitt, Seven Years in Tibet.  The monks didn’t want to dig up the earth to make a building upon it because they were killing earthworms in the process.

The landlord and I have used certain poison that I think this growing population of mice are immune to.  And maybe you will think this is far-reaching, but maybe because of my own buddhist type resistance to having them die well and quickly– they aren’t.

I have asked they all become reborn into a life where they do not have to seek shelter from the cold and risk eradication—perhaps they could be reborn as little kittens to a nice welcoming home.  If they were good, devoted mice or whatever, then when they leave samsara (here), they will take on a better (next) life.

Anyway, I am convincing myself that they will have that.  I saw one little mouse on the cellar steps so devoted last night to dealing with the details of the poison food that I had put down… they picked up every single morsel.  But then THAT gave me the willies too!!

They say when a mouse shows up in your life it’s an indication that you should pay attention to details–or that maybe you are paying too much attention to details.  Whatever.

Oh I will spare you further details—I trust you have heard enough already.  I do like the ‘Biting Through’ guidance of Kua 21 however,  for this problem that is causing me a good deal of emotional drama.  The bottom line is to take swift action and get the emotions out of it.  Got it!

At 3 pm, the landlord and Terminex Exterminating Company will be here and I am assured that it will be dealt with just that way.  The guy will come back every so many days and/or when I call him as needed in contract with the landlord.  I am blessed to have a landlord who will take the swift necessary action.

In Wilhelm’s book on the I CHING it is written, “Biting through has success.  It is favorable to let justice be administered.”  I’ll take that as the good omen or indication that the right thing is being done. In Wu Wei’s book, he calls this kua “Corrective Punishment”.

AND, as a BOTTOM LINE, even though I won’t be here (holiday with my daughters) on Christmas Eve, I truly do hope nothing  here is stirring, not even a mouse!  May they go to the light with ease and be reborn in a better life! — ‘nuff said.