participating, ending, and…

I am having a “slow morning” as they say. It’s been a busy few days, A large Buddhist burial for a young man in Marin County who was run over and killed by a car as he was out celebrating a new job, plans for marriage, and house-hunting to have begun this week. He was run over by a teen-aged woman who stopped immediately and called 911 but it was too late. He was dead and she lives with the fact of having directly participated in someone’s death. Both sides just out for an evening with a life and future opening up in some fashion.

From a Buddhist point of view it’s one more instance of something being played out that is a result of actions set into motion in the past, and the resulting feelings now engendered become part of future actions, and so it all goes on and on.

There would be no teaching or learning happening if there were not an apparent and actionable solution for cycles set into motion. The teaching for this is what a lot of Buddhist practice points to. We can learn to respond and react to the world carefully, considerately and compassionately. We can practice this by being still within, and watching and observing through self-awareness, over time, that our feelings come and go and can influence our actions and responses with seemingly irrevocable consequences.

Yet, anything can be amended over time; with care, with love, with good-will and intention. To amend just means to make something better than it currently is. We can actively participate in changing how we view the world and its conditions and our place in it. This takes time, effort and patience and the result tends to be that we can be softer and easier on others and ourselves. In other words, we can live more carefully and put fewer future consequences into motion for ourselves and others. Now and in the future.

That funeral was a teaching for everyone who attended. After it was over, people went on and got lunch, bought gas or groceries and watered their garden and loved and fought and talked and thought and got brought back in to the swirl of life that seemingly has lots of time for feeding good feelings, as the antidote for bad feelings, and the cycle continues. That life is a constant and not episodic teaching isn’t readily apparent often because we seem to prefer and respond to events, rather than flow.

I am the only one who can interrupt this cycle of being moved by feelings and thinking that is all there is, and wondering why there doesn’t seem to be more. I am the only one who can do that for me, and I can’t do it for anyone else. I am the solution to the problems of life and the “world”. My life, my world.

Yikes! Often I’m just not ready for that; but it seems very true.

It is not a gigantic enterprise but it has huge impact in the same way that raindrops, when joined by others, can change the world in creating life, habitat, sustenance, growth as well as floods, droughts and various lacks depending on conditions that change constantly.

We, individually, can change the world, this one and a future one by how we are in it.

It doesn’t’t require heroics or drama, rather small efforts to be still and to see, to listen, to do, to not do, to help, to offer love, compassion and sympathy, for others and to ourselves, because we aren’t lost we are just little bewildered at times.

A burial on a hillside into hand-dug hole

Wrapped in a cotton sheet with

Hundreds of friends and family

Positioned, once again, to examine

The great question for all of us. Why?

drip drip flow…

We apparently are all going through a time of uncertainty, according to the various info-media I choose to encounter. A lot of that blather is about why we are uncertain, how we experience it, how much we don’t like it and what the prospects are of it changing through time and various conditions. My observation and experience so far is that the ‘going through’ is extending and we are seeing that this may never substantially revert back into the dream we’ve been having. The former Normal.

We may be waking up a little from some of those expectations and starting to see the possibility of settling into a world where nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be promised that is of any real value. Which is what the former “Normal” was, we just haven’t had  an all-inclusive wake-up call like Covid/Climate change since WWII…So, this time around we may be able to achieve various things that seem to be stubbornly elusive.

Kingdom of Heaven? Pursuit of Happiness? Freedom from Hunger? Equality of Races, of Sexes, of Genders, of Opportunities? A Fair Trial? Good Education for all? A Roof Over our Heads? Safety?  Freedom from Fear?  Of disease? Of dying before ‘our time’?…Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort? 

I’m not holding my breath on any of the above becoming a general reality in any foreseeable future that I can envision, although the arena of ‘Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort’ is kind of an encapsulation of all of the others and I believe that is achievable and possible for us individually.

The problem with the solution is it involves letting go of our most cherished beliefs, ideas and concepts. Those are the very things that define us. Raise us above…My beliefs, ideas and concepts define me. They make me real. So, this Me has to change.

Not us, not you. Me! I’m the only thing I can change. I can influence a lot of things and some people and I’d rather do that than change me

If you have a few minutes, hours, days, weeks months years, aeons, I’ll tell you all about how real I am by telling you about my ideas, beliefs and concepts. All that stuff is like a giant block of granite. its taken ages to form and now, it seems, I’m stuck with me.

Self-awareness is like a constant dripping of water on a block of granite. It changes it by diminishing it. Slowly.

Like all metaphor, the granite only works for the first iteration, so I’ll jump on to awareness. (The granite slinks away:)

By stopping for a few moments throughout my waking time and assessing what’s going on around me and what’s going through me (thinking/feeling), I can begin to take a position of being at a remove from my Self as a sometime unattached observer. I find that very interesting and sense that it may have huge possibilities and implications. Drip.

To be aware of what’s going through my mind in thinking and feeling and allowing it to just pass through (drip drip), and not worry where it’s going or came from (drip drip) takes a lot of effort and time (drip drip). Yet, at some point I can see this is a more Natural state (drip drip drip), than believing every little thing that my mind and feelings latch on too.

So, the solution to my problems seems to be becoming familiar and at ease with my own thought and feeling processes by just being still and allowing; quietly observing the mind as it goes on with its chatter and, after some time, it Naturally quiets down. Flow…

Seems like an opportunity for something and I still have to go about the daily business of living and helping myself and others. There seems to be plenty of time for all of it if I just allow things to be, to develop.

After some time there seems to be less worry and stress and fear and more sense of gratitude and a sort of ease. The key words being; After some time (and effort).

 

Interrupting the flow

Through curves and rocks

Creates the sound of

Life and chatter of an

Eternity. Murmurs of

Contentment follow.

 

12 years ago…

Going through old files, I found three years worth of a daily blog I did in ’09. ’10’ and ’11

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

Education (T.S. Elliot?)

I read somewhere that T.S. Elliot said/wrote something to the effect that, a truly educated person is someone who learned things they didn’t want to. Presumably this refers to folks churning through Latin or Greek grammar classes thinking they’d rather be at a pub. It certainly points to a quandary for the autodidact of my type.

I was never disciplined enough to follow the regimen of classes, schools and teachers, but I was curious and blessed with an ability to see connections that were more intuitive than intellectual. This is a reasonably good method to get an education if you keep at it for a long time, read continuously, and have a variety of things you find interesting and take the time to pursue them.

Sometimes though, I sort of wish that I had followed directions a little better.

Then again, I’m glad I didn’t, and gotten bent and stuffed into a niche that left me “productive” and “contributing” and facile in the ways of “going along to get along”.

Of course that could also be a good description of a fool (the nail that sticks out gets hammered down).

I find it ironic that today, by choice, and the absolute result of my contrary ways, I follow a path that asks me to discipline myself. As I go along this path I find more real freedom and openness than I ever could have imagined possible left to my own devices.

It seems that it is good to learn in structured settings and it is also good learn by jumping into the deep end.

Today I had a short conversation with a college student between freshman and sophomore years and was happy to hear his enthusiasm for college, but sort of uneasy when he described the reading program he had for the Summer. I thought , “That’s it? For a whole Summer? Three books? Yikes!”

To this young person I would suggest that he goes to two people he respects and two people he doesn’t, and ask each one to recommend three books to read. Get those books and read them this Summer.

I would recommend a book by Louis L’Amour titled “Education of Wandering Man”. I’ve never read any of his westerns but this memoir of his self-education as a itinerant worker and wanderer is a inspiring look at an independent thinkers approach.

We are truly fortunate to live in a time and place when literally all of the worlds written/gathered knowledge is accessible to anyone with a library card. WoW!!