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!

Daily Divination 5-24-11 Joplin Tornado, 10 of Swords, Gemini Sun

Oh my gosh—the 10 of Swords inspires today’s cosmic communiqué, as per my illusion anyway.  Joplin, MO and the tornado… I knew the second that I saw this card that I was going to have to write about it.  Well, here goes…

This card always seems so overly dramatic but who’s to say what is exaggerated as far as life experiences go? Only the experiencer!  Certainly, the Joplin tornado could qualify as pretty dramatic and tragic.  Talk about devastating change… wow!

Ever notice that a circumstance that totally immobilizes one person creates a totally different response in a different person going through the exact same event? On CNN last night there was an audio/video clip of a group of individuals who sought shelter inside the cooler of a convenience store. One could only have a heartfelt, compassionate response while listening to their recorded experience. (links below) Yet, you could hear how people responded so differently and it was very interesting.

One woman screamed out the name of jesus repeatedly, adding “father help me”. I found it interesting that she used the word me instead of the word us. After all they were packed in like sardines and it was a unified group experience; yet in the clip I heard,  the woman called out for help for herself –not the others?  (Maybe it was implied or intended. )  Yet, in contrast to this older sounding adult female, you could also hear the voice of a younger males.  One young man was telling everyone that he loved them, “I love you guys man; I love everyone man, I love you, I love you guys.” Another young male voice said, “Yeah, me too, I love everyone.”  And another young man was saying, “We’re good, we’re okay, we’re going to do it. Stay calm.” Meanwhile, the older female voice was screaming out jesus and father save me.

I guess the point is that disaster and trauma—the kind that brings people to the moment of a perceived eminent death—brings out something different in each of us.  In watching news reports on Joplin, I’m noticing how many people who relate their stories are conveying how they don’t remember getting where they ended up.  Interesting; and one wonders if angels weren’t involved. One guy  who was telling his story to Anderson Cooper on CNN said that when the tornado hit that he was in the house and when he came to, he was sitting in the front seat of his truck and had no idea how he got there.

The archetype or motif of the 10 of swords, this energy, and the message with it has to do with the times when we need to embrace faith. The cooler crew of Joplin exemplifies this card’s meaning since it is about short-lived difficulties—things that look bad at the moment, feel terribly disastrous at the time, but are short in duration. It was that way for that group at least.

Generally speaking now, focusing on the card meaning here, it’s about the light at the end of the tunnel and the need to remain focused and patient rather than in a panic being immobilized by fear.

It’s about working with the forces surrounding you even in the darkest moments that life sometimes brings—that’s the conceptual message of this card.

The Buddhists teachings, specifically in the famous Tibetan Book of the Living and the Dead, it is suggested that at the moment of death, the final feelings and thoughts are those that we carry over into the Bardo state and into our next lifetime.   And so it is suggested that a mentally and emotionally peaceful state at the moment of death is most desirable.  I’d like to think it’s like the young man you will hear on the recording link below who said that he was overcome with a surreal feeling of peace.  One man whose truck was torn apart on the Interstate, when asked what his thoughts were just as the truck was being ripped apart, indicated that his thought was, “Here we go.”  Makes you wonder if he isn’t an old soul who remembers how it goes.

Souls who speak to me from the other side always say that death is like walking from one room to another; there’s nothing to it.  They always say not to have any fear. That’s what I hear from them anyway.  The reader will just have to take my word for it I suppose.

One wonders about the cooler folks—the contrast of the woman in a panic screaming out the names of the deities causing alarm in the others versus  the young men who seemed to permeate the group with thoughts, words and the energy of love.  Interesting contrast perhaps having to do with soul age.  Who knows for sure?

Strange, but in watching (more like listening) to the recording, it transported me to my own similar memories from past lives of being in those types of situations.  Familiar feelings of surrender and the calm… helping others to feel calm in a similar situation came to the forefront of my mind.   But I digress… let’s go to the bottom line message with the 10 of Swords.

But just to interject first that many, including myself, are doing energy work (prayer work) for the souls of Joplin at this time on various levels, with a loving and compassionate heart.

After the clouds and the rain and the wind, there will be a rainbow–that’s today’s card meaning. Further, the message is that no matter what the trauma, we do come through the other side undeniably changed.

The Sun in Gemini relates to the 10 of Swords archetype—same energy. The element of AIR is representative of both the astrological Gemini and the suit of Swords.

Anyway, Gemini (the twins II) that is associated with the 10 of swords represents the quality of being of two minds and carries the quality of someone who is either on top of the world or feeling hopeless demise… like Libra is sometimes, Gemini has those two extremes. With Gemini it is either the best of days or the worst of days with no in-between.

And with the Sun (Sun in Gemini), we’re talking about purpose itself, essence itself.

I supposed a bottom line correlation of Sun in Gemini to the 10 of swords has to do with split purpose. Let’s leave Joplin out of the interpretation for a moment. What I’m sayen’ is general in that sometimes what happens in life has a double or twin (Gemini) meaning. Sort of like that “good news, bad news–who knows?” proverb you hear quoted often. Gemini is about adapting to changing circumstances; and that’s another connection to the Sun in Gemini correlation to this card.

So what’s today’s bottom line divination message? Life isn’t an either or situation (either perfect or hopeless) and most circumstances of life require us to adapt to change. It doesn’t do much good to panic or to panic others no matter what is going on, especially in the face of disaster. Sometimes life tests our mettle (shows our true character) and from those initiations we can learn a great deal about ourselves. Maybe that’s why they happen?

I’ve found this blog to be a difficult one to write. I hope nothing here portrays insensitivity to those suffering in Joplin. My heart goes out to them with my prayers and a donation to the Red Cross as well.

Spiritual Awakening is written all over these kinds of experiences and with the Internet, TV and Videos these days, awakenings can occur from a distance too.  Even if we all weren’t there in Joplin, we were still there!  Like the young man in the cooler said, “I love you guys!” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0fDfkiSUPA

and another….

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/23/surreal-moment-in-joplin-store-freezer-storm-drowns-out-shrieks-prayer/