Thursday, September 29, 2005

Impermanence - Azam Ali - Where all is Borrowed

In a world where all is borrowed,
and time like elusive dust seems to
just slip through our fingers,

all we really have are these precious moments
where we can make fertile the soil
in the garden of our hearts,
that here love may make its home
and here the mortal seed may flourish.

Only love can free us from the womb of time

for life like a magnificent mysterious cloud holds
its shape and form only long enough for us to blink,

and all our precious memories are but shadows of
time that will drift away like fallen leaves returning
to the emptiness from which they came.

Thus we are, like innocent children flowering
in the garden of souls.

Azam Ali

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Half Empty Cup?

Having just had my first real positive breakthrough with my slipped disc, after 7 years of pain, I was reflecting on what different views it is possible to form on the myriad shifting conditions of ones life, and how differently those views must then impact on your life.

I've just had a successful course of physiotherapy, and as a result, now have less pain than for many years, and some means by which I can manage my pain, without resorting to pain killers. That is quite a breakthrough!

However, I've had many rounds of physio in the past, and been referred to various different agencies and different treatments in that time.

So now that this treatment has been effective - primarily because I was referred to someone in the physio department who was a 'specialist' in back treatment, rather than to the other physios, what is my response?

Is it to curse my 'luck' that only now has a solution been found? I could have been referred to *that* physio at any time, but I wasn't. No-one thought to do so, it seems, despite the lack of success of their own treatment.

So you could say that perhaps I could have been without so much pain had things happened differently - had someone thought to pass me on to their colleague.

but they didn't ... and that is cause and effect .... karma ..... and dependent origination.

But what of my view ... my ideas about what is? Should I hang on to what might have been, and wasn't ... and feel regret, or even anger at the missed opportunity, and all the things in life I've missed due to chronic pain?

Or should I just be grateful for what I have now .... that I'm relatively pain free ... and can now do simple things in life again?

How do we form these views? Well, we form views by selecting out of myriad facets those that fit a particular angle, a particular 'take' on things. And we leave out all the aspects that don't fit with that .... reducing something immensely complex and constantly shifting, into something simple, neat, and ultimately, untrue.

And what are the consequences of these views? Is it not the case that once we have a 'view' on things, then we always then disregard all the arisings that don't fit with this .... and just keep picking up on that which seems to ratify our view?

Do we not only selectively pick out what suits us, but also respond feelingly in such a partial way too?

Do we not have a 'mood' which is a result of the 'view' we have?

If we feel we've been hard done by all these years due to settling on a view which says it *should* have been different .. then how will that make us feel?

Or if we simple say ... that's karma, that's dependent origination ... and let go ... and just get on with what is .... without partiality ... then how will we feel?

Falsify what is, come up with a view ... then filter what comes to be .... and get caught up in negative emotions .....

or just stay with what is ... fluid, complex, shifting always .... and spontaneously respond to needs as they arise, without prejudice, without partiality .... and without reactivity ....

hmmm .... do we see life as a glass that is half full, or half empty?

Do we need to see it is exclusively either? Do we need a view of this sort?

Perhaps half-full is a more useful skillful means than half-empty ..... but beyond skillful means and provisional understandings lies what is .... which lies beyond views.

Open, receptive, responsive ....

Unrestricted .....

Allow the heart to open ... and the mind's natural expansiveness to just be ....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Wordly Things are Pitiful

Reflecting on how easy it is to get swept up in wanting and not-wanting, based on misunderstanding the impermanent and not-self nature of all things, the activities of this life, and the apparent pleasures that arise in it are seductive and yet illusory.

How true it is that that which we grasp after slips like sand through our fingers, however hard we try to grasp.

How true it seems to be that the more we grasp after that which we think will bring us happiness, the more empty we feel, and the more we feel we need to do more grasping.

How blessed are the moments when we see through this whole game, and the extraordinary unnecessary nature of the way we grope and grasp is seen in clarity of mind, to be the doomed to failure exercise it truly is.

When mind opens into clarity and emptiness, we see at once the spacious unfixedness of all that appears, and recognise the futility of grasping and rejecting that which is mere appearance.

How peaceful the mind is, which doesn’t try to mistakenly solidify that which cannot be solidified.

How beautiful the release when grasping is relinquished!

How wonderful the teachings of the Gurus, who point the path to such unmistaken realisation!

How blessed indeed are we whose path is illuminated by the clarity of their teachings!

How wonderful – Eh Ma Ho!

The words of Jetsun Milarepa, the peerless one, on the futility of grasping at worldly concerns:
Alas, how pitiful are worldly things!
Like precious jade they cherish
Their bodies, yet like ancient trees
They are doomed in the end to fall.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

Though you gather wealth
As hard as bees collect their honey,
The ills that upon you may fall
Can never be foretold,
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

One may offer to a Lama
Loads of silk for many years;
But when an ill-fortune descends,
Like a fading rainbow
One's faith at once dissolves.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

Like a pair of mated beasts,
Lovers live together,
But calamity by the wolf's attack
May fall on you at any time.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

You may cherish your dear son,
Like a hen hatching her egg;
But a falling rock may crush it at any time.
Sometimes bridle your wild thoughts
And pay heed to the Dharma.

A face may be as pretty as a flower,
Yet at any time it can be spoiled by violent hail.
Think at times of how this world
Is sorry, transient and futile.

Though son and mother have affection
For each other, when discords arise,
Like foes they clash and quarrel,
Sometimes towards all sentient beings
You should feel compassion.

Baking in the warm sunlight
May be pleasant and a comfort,
But a storm of woe may rise
And choke you at any time,
Remember sometimes the deprived,
And give alms to those in need.

Oh, dear men and women patrons,
For him who cannot practise Dharma,
All his life will be meaningless,
All his acts wrong-doings!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Useless Stuff?

When it really gets down to it, how much of our activity is quite simply 'useless'?

I don't mean that it has no use at all on a mundane level, but that it is so conditioned, so led by instinct or habit, so unconscious or below awareness or choice, or simply so trivial, superficial and transient that one wonders how on earth one gets caught up in so much 'doing'.

How is this stuff so powerful? Has does it exert so much attraction that we are seduced into activity, into wanting or not wanting, into trying to gain, have and sustaining?

In a way, this 'stuff' isn't so seductive or attractive as such. In a way, nothing is inherently more or less attractive as such. In a way, it's just conditioned co-production, it's the sum total of all influences at that moment, of all conditions at that moment, that bring to bear the ability of that 'thing' to transfix us and tranform us, to encourage us to lose our natural abiding, and trade it for ignorance and duality.

But then again, it's not the 'thing' is it? It's our minds, our consciousness, our awareness that counts. It's 'us' inasmuch as their is an 'us', it's 'me', inasmuch as their is a 'me' which gets lost in this duality and illusion of solidity, which chooses or not to dive into the pool of unawareness and transient 'honey on a razors edge' pleasure.

In that moment of awareness, how does it come to be that we either abide in our natural state, we rest in minds natural state, we are Buddha Nature, we recognise Ordinary Mind ... or we get caught up in allowing appearances to well up into apparent solidity, to seem to not be merely alluring illusions, and become hard and whole happenings and things ... which seem inherently worth chasing after/away?

Mind is open, expansive and without centre. Appearances come and go ... seemingly, but do they?

When mind's nature is lost, appearances take on an entirely different nature, or so it seems. They solidify, then become 3D, they become real, and then attract and entrance.

And yet, they don't. They don't solidify. They remain empty.

Whether lost from Original Mind, temporarily, or abiding it its nature, those appearances remain the same ... empty, free of solidity or self, and illusive and like a dream. Their nature never changes. But our perception of them, and their nature appears to change. So much so that we get lost to ourselves, lost to our nature, and chase after those dreams as though our lives depended on it.

Our lives depended on it? Our lives depend on recognising the nature of all this, and helping all beings to the same, doesn't it?

Or does millions of years of evolution on this planet come down to Pop Idol, Home Makeover shows, and an endless procession of passive consumption of what you need to make your life complete entertainment?

In the moment, our awareness, mind ... appearances ... how are they?

In the moment, which road do we take .... to the heart of things, or lost in illusion?

In the moment, what enables us to take that choice, to wisdom, or to ignorance?

In the moment, the whole universe lays before us, where will we go?

In the moment ... in the moment ....