Posted by: secretagent39 | December 18, 2010

Maybe I’m Buddhist

I know that doesn’t explain the cow but roll with me…

The more I read, the more convinced I’m becoming…

I am reading that Buddhist teachings apply to everyday living as well as intimate relationships. Indeed, there is no separation between the awareness of how we breathe, think, talk, eat, walk, rest, work, play and the awareness of how we relate to others and to all sentient life.  We are all a little *touched*.

 *As we team to bring attention to whatever we are doing, we find that all of life is a form of meditation.*

I took that directly out of the book.  There is simply the experience of the moment, and our task on the spiritual path is to be engaged fully in whatever is happening right now, without judgment or expectations.

That is one huge, freakin’ meditation.

*We come to realize that happiness, pain, sadness, and joy are the passing winds of our ever-changing experience, closely aligned with our identification with our mind and thoughts. As our mind becomes quieter, we are more able to attune to the present moment, which allows us to see into the heart of things. We come to accept that for everyone, life is unpredictable, difficult, and wondrous. This, in turn, allows us to cherish, forgive, and love on this imperfect human path.*

Huh.

I get that Buddhism is more about experience than beliefs. There is no concept of a supreme God –no father, mother, or unseen being out there, guiding us, controlling us, comforting us, or giving us a hand to hold. There is also no one judging us, or telling us we are right or wrong. Rather, there is refuge in the teachings, and the support of our community of like-minded brothers and sisters. We gauge the clarity and goodness of our actions through attunement to our heart and mind, asking if we are being guided by kindness and compassion in all things.

I just read in these teachings that couples are full and equal partners on the path of awakening, joining together, learning from each other, yet each on our own journey. Buddhism embraces the belief that all life is sacred and interconnected. That underneath surface behaviors and thoughts lays the essence of being, a unifying force that flows through all of us. I so believe this… for better or worse.

As a recovering Catholic, I really like that Buddhism has no concept of sin. Rather it embraces the belief that we harm others out of our own unconsciousness or ignorance. If we were fully awake we would experience that to harm another is to harm ourselves, and that to harm ourselves is to harm another. There is no separation. As we come to fully understand this, we become less reactive to others and respond without fear or malice in our hearts. In these paraphrasing, I find comfort versus guilt.  I sometimes berate myself and think I should be smarter than that but I concede I am not.  To me, it seems like that’s a big step toward forgiveness and the ability to move on.

 Emptiness is form, form is emptiness: we are all connected

This concept, which lies at the heart of Buddhism, asserts that everything is made of emptiness. Said another way, there is a unifying energy that underlies all life. At our deepest level, we are essence — the universal I Am. I so relate to this but we also live in a physical body and have a set of beliefs, values, and expectations that we have adopted. Unfortunately, we often identify with these beliefs to the exclusion of experiencing our essential nature which some people may call Source, God, Spirit, All That Is, or Essence.

To be at peace with ourselves and to create intimacy, we need to connect with our deepest essence and realize we existed prior to all these learned thoughts, habits, and beliefs we adopted. If we peel back the thoughts and perceptions we have learned and try to find something solid to identify with that is uniquely who we are, something that goes beyond conditioning, we find that everything dissolves and we drop into essence. There is simply nothing solid we can adhere to that defines who we are. This is frightening and freeing — frightening to our mind and ego, freeing to our heart which wants to experience love.

Paradoxically, it is through this emptiness that we find our wholeness and experience love, because there is nothing in the way. We are completely unified.

I get it: God (whatever) is love.  Those sayings of, “Let go and let God” make sense from this perspective even though I have no idea what “God” is or how to define that exactly.

We can extend this idea of unity to everything in our daily lives. In his commentaries on The Heart of Understanding, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Everything contains everything else.” He uses the phrase “inter-are.” We are the clouds, the water, the forest, and the earth that is contained in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink. We also are permeated by the vibration of touch, voice, laughter, kisses, smiles, frowns, etc…

Everything becomes a form of energy, moving and shifting within us and between us. It is only an illusion that we are separate. As we become conscious of the deep level of “inter-being” with all people, we become exquisitely aware of the importance of being mindful of our behavior and words.

The four noble truths:

*These truths show how we create our own suffering through our attachments, expectations, and demands that people and situations be different than they are. By examining our attachments, we see the numerous ways in which we try to control others instead of accepting them as they are. *

The first noble truth is that suffering is inherent to life.

The second noble truth asserts that we suffer because of our attachments — our craving, clinging, and demanding.

The third noble truth is that Nirvana — equanimity, peace, and cessation of craving is possible and available to all when we cease our attachments.

The fourth noble truth is that there is an eightfold path that leads to being free of attachments. They often are called the signposts to being on the path. They include Right Understanding, Right Aspiration, Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration, and Right Mindfulness.  

I have learned that when someone appeared not to like me, it meant they were attached to my being different, not that I was bad. Similarly, I discovered that when I felt impatient or angry, this reflected my attachment to someone behaving differently. This was oh-so-very-hard for me to accept on so many levels but I truly feel the truth that lies beneath it.

I learned that my conditioning and expectations created my turmoil, not the words or actions of the other person.

The belief that we do harm out of ignorance doesn’t take away our responsibility for our actions but it suggests that we might better explore the pain or needs beneath our behavior rather than judging ourselves harshly or sinking into shame. This awareness is a key to changing relationships because it removes all levels of blame and shame and helps to realize that everyone is just doing what they are conditioned to do.   As a *pick myself up by my bootstraps kinda gal* I would have called bullshit on this but I see the truth in it.

To love better and feet more openhearted and unified with others, I’ve started to notice my own attachments to thoughts and behaviors. Whenever agitated, upset, angry, mad, or hurt, I find I have an attachment to something being different than it is or I’m simply afraid of the outcome. I am resisting the “what is” of the moment. I realize this as creating my own emotional state.

I remember learning about how we attach things like validations, praise, affirmations, etc… to the things that happen within our lives.  I was at some stupid Forum thingy and the gist of it was that we form our emotions around the things that happen based on how we learned to deal with them as children.  It felt like a crock of shit, at the time, but it stayed with me for some reason.

What I learned was that we decide what those emotions will be, based on our history with the person(s) and how we’ve reacted in the past during the formation of our emotional selves.  I took this as meaning of our emotional intelligence through learned behaviors. 

I learned that no one has the power to make me feel anything; I decide, coherently or incoherently, how to feel.  I walked around for days saying things like, “You don’t have that kind of power.”  Or, “I can’t make you feel anything you don’t want to feel.  I don’t have that kind of power.”  I guess those were my baby steps toward personal accountability though they were rudimentary of thought and feelings.

I’ve learned that, as I loosen my attachments to those kinds of things, my mind will actually quiet down and I feel more attuned to others; the attachments don’t disappear, but I begin to see them for what they are — the chattering of a conditioned mind. When I actually step back and ask, “Now what am I demanding that’s making me so upset?” I become witness to the unfolding drama of my life. I start to see it as a passing show; kind of like watching a movie. I am in it but not of it.

Let me say that again: I am in it but not of it.

Sometimes, I think I would be much better off if I just stood in the fact that it’s just none of my damned business what someone else thinks of me.

“It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly
you hold a grudge for years
with such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?”
-Rumi, “Bismillah”

Experiencing lovingkindness.

My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Wishing: in gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease…
Let none, through anger of ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
So with a boundless heart
should one cherish all living beings.
-Buddha

I truly believe that, when two people fully open their hearts, wanting only the best for each other, they ease through the boundaries of their separateness. I believe this is the essence of lovingkindness as the Dalai Lama so eloquently states.

I just read that the foundation of lovingkindness is bringing an unconditional friendliness and acceptance to ourselves. We realize that everything is part of our nature and there is nothing to reject.  Man, that’s hard to remember and practice on a daily basis.

Kahlil Gibran (one of my favs) writes in The Prophet:

 “In our giant self lies our goodness, and that goodness is in all of us.  Lovingkindness is like bringing a vast embrace to all we are and feeling the radiance at the center of our being.”

According to what I just read, it is from this place of self-acceptance and expansiveness that we feel steady, natural, and unafraid. When lovingkindness permeates our being, we are so transparent and at ease within ourselves that anger and hostility have no place to take root inside. Once we experience the wonderful expansiveness of lovingkindness, we become highly attuned to the constricting nature of holding on to grief, anger, hurt, loss, etc…  This resonates with me and sets calm upon me but it doesn’t seem to last because of that old conditioning.  I’m workin’ on it!

I believe that one step toward experiencing lovingkindness comes from immersing myself in my own life, following my heart and giving fully to whatever called to do. (Hello: Pisces and giving in nature does not have to be a bad thing!!)  In doing this, I feel it allows me to cheer completely for others as they come into their power and find their path. I see this in my management style on a daily basis.  If I stand in the shadows of my life, shrinking from the vast possibilities before me, I find myself at times uncomfortable around people who fully explore their own potential.  You know, like, say, Oprah.  Ha! 

I stand in awe as if I don’t deserve any more than what they have achieved or what they stand in.  Then I realize I am making comparisons which is constricting.  God… the constant reminders!!   And then I realize I need to cheer for me as much as I cheer for others in my life.  I will, and I know I do this, expect so much from others that I will stand in disappoint which can be cause to ruin a perfectly good relationship.

Physician: heal thyself and…. For God’s sake… read more Buddhist traits!!

And there I stand, on this fine Saturday, reading, musing, absorbing, immersing, and totally in my head as I watch the snow melt in the sunshine of another beautiful day.

Reminders are all around me in appreciation of this life’s’ journey.  There is no map, no secret corridor to happiness yet there is love that I cannot deny.

I’m gonna go immerse myself in it.

Peace.

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