Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our True Teacher - Reality

“Laypeople live in the realm of sensuality. They have families, money, and possessions, and are deeply involved in all sorts of activities. Yet sometimes they will gain insight and see Dhamma before monks and nuns do. Why is this? It’s just because of their suffering from all these things. They see the fault and can let go. They can put it down after seeing clearly in their experience. Seeing the harm and letting go, they are then able to make good use of their positions in the world and benefit others…

The laypeople live in a certain kind of thoroughness and clarity. Whatever they do, they really do it. Even getting drunk, they do it thoroughly and have the experience of what it’s like. So, because of their experience, they may become tired of things and realize the Dhamma quicker than monks can.” Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away, Ajahn Chah, p 145-146

Wow. What an inspiring teaching from a great Master.

Throughout my years of following the teachings and practicing meditation, I have often had a strong desire to leave the world behind and become a Buddhist nun. I understand why this desire comes up. It is because I do see the suffering that worldly life can bring. I can see the suffering in me that results from complicated worldly and self-centered dramas. Drama from my daily activities trying to make a living and raise children. Drama from living in a society where everyone is trying to sell something, whether it be an object or an opinion. Everyone has their own idea of how things should be and that is what causes such conflict and drama in the world. The difference between how we want things to be and how they actually are, causes so much suffering.

This suffering is what causes us all to run to the churches, synagogues, temples, bars... One of my favorite scenes from The Simpsons is when the end of the world is coming to Springfield and all the people at the church run to the bar and all the people at the bar run to the church. We have this error in thinking that relief is somewhere out there. But wherever we are, that is where our practice is. We don’t need to go anywhere. When will we learn this? If we stop trying to escape this suffering, this suffering is what can actually wake us up.

We can take great pilgrimages to India or Thailand, we can go on three month retreats at Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts, we can climb Mount Everest or hitchhike across Tibet, we can seek out great teachers and meditation masters in caves, but our lessons are not to be found out there. Peace is not to be found out there. It’s not actually even found in meditation or prayer. These are good tools for preparing the mind for peace, but it is not where it is actually found. Peaceful feelings in meditation are only temporary.

True peace is found in seeing and understanding the truth of the way things are, and having no battle with it. This is Dhamma, the truth of the way things are. And only we can see it for ourselves.

“Others’ words can’t measure your practice. And you don’t realize the Dhamma because of what others say. I mean the real Dhamma. The teachings others can give you are to show you the path, but that isn’t real knowledge. When people genuinely meet the Dhamma, they realize it directly within themselves. So the Buddha said that is is merely the one who shows the way. In teaching us, he is not accomplishing the way for us. We have to the that ourselves. Don’t wait for the salesman to do it. Once he’s made the sale, he takes the money and splits. That’s his part.” Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away, p 146

“Just this Dharma is the true teacher.” Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away, p 141

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome Change if You Want Love in Your Life

Things are changing. Love changes things. Love is changing my daily/weekly/monthly routines and habits. It is changing my thoughts about the future: thoughts about family structure, thoughts about living space, living habits and schedules. It is making me consider what is appropriate to share with my children and when and how do I do this right??

Since the separation over 3 years ago and the divorce being final over 2 years ago, I have gotten used to being a family of three – my two daughters and me. I have gotten used to doing everything myself: keeping house, cooking, shopping, fixing things that get broken, caring for the kids 5-6 days per week, etc. I have gotten used to having time to fill on the weekends I don’t have my kids and in the evenings when they are asleep (alone time that is sometimes desired, sometimes not). I have gotten used to being single. I have gotten used to making plans to do things by myself or with friends. I have gotten used to the dating scene. I have gotten used to keeping my kids out of my dating life. I have gotten used to being a little lonely and frustrated in the search for a beautiful man to share my life with.

I have gotten used to saying, “Next!” again and again in the dating scene, paging through profiles on internet dating sites, scrutinizing each potential candidate, ruling hundreds of men out, meeting a select few that passed my initial scrutiny to find some big incompatibility or to find there is no chemistry. The few men that I did choose, did not choose me in return. I was starting to think maybe I was being too picky. That my ideals were too high and perfectionistic. But I don’t think I have been too picky.

What I have been looking for is fairly straightforward and simple. All I have wanted is someone who is honest and responsible, has similar values and lifestyle as me with a mutual level of attraction. Just basic but critical qualities.

And just as I was about to take another break from dating, perhaps indefinitely, to go into a sort of sleepy hibernation all alone for the winter, I met the man who has woken me up and finally given me hope that what I have been wanting and waiting for actually exists! Not only does he meet my very basic criteria, he exceeds them and on top of that, he is just as crazy about me as I am about him.

I am 38 years old. I have had several great loves so far in my life. I am ready for the greatest love of my life. I am all grown up. I know what I need and want. I know what marriage means – I’ve been there already. I know what “happily ever after” actually is in reality. I am realistic about what a future with a man might be like.

I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I do know that I am willing to take a chance on love and find out. Let the transformation begin!