Fumbling Towards Enlightenment

When you are fatigued and unwell is when it is hardest sometimes, to live by your beliefs of peace and mindfulness and compassion.

But I am still learning. I will forever be a beginner in this practice but I am prepared to keep trying.

Enlightenment means different things to different people.

Essentially it’s about these words: compassion, mindfulness, love, living in the moment.

tian tan buddha – hong kong

In Buddhism, we speak of touching Nirvana with our own body, In Christianity, you can also touch the Kingdom of God with your body, right here and now. it is much safer than placing our hope in the future. If we cling to the idea of hope in the future, we might not notice the peace and joy that are available in the present moment. The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. -Thich Nhat Hanh

My 3 days off will include meditation, fasting and reminding myself of compassion.

gautama-buddha

“May All That Have Life Be Delivered From Suffering.” -Gautama Buddha

Let Go

 

On hearing of the passing of Adam Yauch…

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/beastie-boys-co-founder-adam-yauch-dead-at-48-20120504

…I began to ponder my own Buddhist beliefs on death.

As a great help to the Free Tibet movement, I believe he must have felt some connection to Buddhism.

It is a sad truth that death comes to us all….(aren’t I a ray of sunshine for Sunday?)

My mother-in-law is a nurse and through her, I’ve come to learn alot about people’s irrational need to cling to a life of suffering, just to keep existing.

I also know through my own experience, and as a permanent skeptic of things like ‘near death experiences’ and ‘the great beyond’ I can tell you this:

When I lay a hair’s width away from death in 2003, it was a peaceful and calm experience.

Once I was too tired to be scared anymore, I was calm and accepting and said to myself ok, if now is the time, I can deal with that.

This was after I begged the universe to let me see age 25 by the way, I’m no super human or awesome Buddhist…I wanted to keep living just like anyone else.

With that experience behind me, when it was questionable again what might be wrong with me a few months ago, I came to the experience with a little more acceptance and peace. I was a little more proud of my accomplishments the second time round.

When you face it, Buddhist teachings say, accept it with peace and grace that death is not the end of life but a transition between types of existence.

When you think about it, death is not the worst thing that could happen to us.

We do not feel anything once our spirits leave our bodies.

But when you break up with someone, when you lose a friend or a job or get sick, you feel all sorts of negative things.

Don’t cling to suffering. Let go my dear, let go.

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend or a meaningful day.

-Dalai Lama

 

 

The Fullness Of My Circle

“There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.” – Buddha

I have embraced the circle as my symbol for the present.

This might sound peculiar but it makes perfect sense that the universe would draw me to this symbol.

In 2005 I moved to my current city because of a woman.

I wasn’t so much, running toward her as I was, running away from the straight world and all that it encompassed for me.

10 days later, I answered the phone and a female voice answered. It was another woman and I knew then, I had made a mistake.

For reasons I can’t fathom, recognising she had a drinking problem, was irresponsible and couldn’t hold down a job, I stayed with her for 2 years.

It was, as some counsellors call it, domestic terrorism; I was awoken at all hours, called all names, threatened, screamed at, ridiculed and used – for my extra income and stability.

In the end, it came to blows, on her end, not mine. As the taller and stronger one, I allowed her to lash out at me physically. I did only what I needed to do in order to protect myself.

“I’ll call the cops and tell them you beat me,” she snarled, a sharp whiff of beer on her breath, her legs unsteady.
I did what I could to wrestle the only phone in the house away from her and dialled 911 while she fought to pry the baseball bat she was threatening me with, from underneath my legs.

“My ex-girlfriend is trying to kill me,” I panted into the phone.

The next day, I walked into the office at a health clinic in my city and asked for help.

“You need to help me so that what happened never happens to me again,”

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” -Kenji Miyazawa

That journey got me to meet a lot of wonderful people. I stumbled and fell and did stupid things for a while, but I figured it out.

I spent some time alone and during that time, I met my wonderful wife.

She has supported my career change from media to psychology and now I’m returning the knowledge and the experience back to the community.

Full circle for me means coming back to the community, offering others who’ve experienced the violation of self by someone intimate the support they need to reclaim their lost selves.

It’s seven years now since I first stepped in to that situation and I am older, stronger and smarter.

Not to mention, I am far more certain of what I will tolerate before I cut you loose as a friend or lover.

I have lots to do before I finish my group proposal on how I will help women who’ve been hurt by other women, but I plan to do the best I can for as many people who graciously accept my help.

Sharing my knowledge and giving compassion is what I must do with my life now.

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.” – Buddha

we are more than our anger

“In a time of anger or despair, even if we feel
overwhelmed, our love is still there. Our capacity to
communicate, to forgive, to be compassionate is
still there. You have to believe this. We are more
than our anger, we are more than our suffering.
We must recognize that we do have within
us the capacity to love, to understand,
to be compassionate, always.”–Thich Nhat Hanh

Sometimes whenI…

Sometimes when I wake up, it’s weird, for a few moments, a few hours, I ‘forget’ the illness.

I feel normal and centred and then, it’s like a muscle memory – you move a certain way;

think a certain thought.

Snap, ouch, that’s right, that pain….you’re still there.

shit.

It is no wonder so many people with mental illnesses are substance abusers.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a vacation from yourself for a few hours, an evening, a few days if you dare?

I don’t dare…been there, done it, not going to go back, chilling with meditation, saying my chants and being mindful is harder, but there’s no hangover/coming down feeling to make you feel shittier.

Find your “thing” that makes life worth it…for an hour at a time.

Be kind whenever possible 

 

Balance

“…you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. In the end it’s all a question of balance.”
― Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance

I am wading, shin deep, in a hardening concrete called depression and the past couple of days, it has been dangling me over its gaping maw.

The harder I fight against it, the more momentum I lose and thus, no posts come – just tears.

No one succumbs to losing control of their life in small fragments or suddenly either I suppose.

Secretly chanting mantras in my head is helpful:

I go to the Buddha for refuge

Control is an illusion and clinging to desires is the cause of suffering, says the Buddha, things that give me peace.

If all I have is this moment, if I trust my beliefs that the consistent and dependable entity of life is change, then I chant…

This too shall pass.

It is difficult to wait for money, to wait for x-rays, to wait for help, to mark the days that melt into each other like a Dali painting.

But it is not the most difficult thing.

It isn’t that difficult in the timeline of my life, even in the past month, forget about the last 33 years.

Knowing this, bowing to the small shrine, with incense burning, to my small Buddha on the shelf gives me comfort, like any spiritual ritual.

So knowing that my mind is convincing my heart and my body to let my head be pulled
under the water and into hopelessness,
I will be compassionate to myself
and read the words of a great man:

Most important is knowing how to ride the waves of impermanence, smiling as one who knows he has never been born and will never die. -Thich Nhat Hanh