Yours in the Dharma:  Essays from a Buddhist perspective by Sandy Garson

This blog, Yours in the Dharma by Sandy Garson, is an effort to navigate life between the fast track and the breakdown lane, on the Buddhist path. It tries to use a heritage of precious, ancient teachings to steer clear of today's pain and confusion to clear the path to what's truly happening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

And now a few words...

Good news from this summer of sorrows: Traleg Rinpoche lives.  His yangsi, or tulku, or reincarnation if you prefer, has been found, approved and delivered to his home monastery in eastern Tibet. He is being enthroned there as I write. That means for the first time since the brutal Chinese invasion of 1949, all four rinpoches of Thrangu Monastery together again. Traleg was actually supreme among them.

The late Traleg Rinpoche was a peerless teacher. He was not only a master of Dharma but of human psychology: he had an advanced university degree. That made him so direct and so clear in his English you could not avoid getting his point. Dharma was not some psychological self-help therapy. He didn't want people messing around with meditation just so they could "feel better about themselves." 

Traleg Rinpoche also had no patience for wishy washy, half-hearted plunges into spiritual makeover.  He wanted us to wade all the way into the depth of Dharma. He actually made it seem, well not easy, but definitely doable and certainly reasonable. He went out of his way to give useful how-to. So in honor of his return and enthronement, here are a few words of his that may be of benefit to all.

From Traleg Rinpoche's commentary of the central Mahamudra text: Ocean of Certainty

 "Each manifest physical act has a mental act that preceded it. Whatever we experience in terms of pain, pleasure, happiness and suffering is the result of the things we have thought and done in the past. Every thought we entertain and every deed we perform in this life leaves a karmic impression in the mind, which will determine our future...existence. ...

"In any case, you have to realize that no karma we create is this life is wasted. ... Whether we create negative or positive karma, it all leaves an impression in the mind. These impressions are like seeds that remain dormant until the appropriate conditions trigger them again and they come to fruition, which results in our experiences of happiness or suffering. ...

"Furthermore, whatever karma you create, it is your own. Karma cannot be transferred from one person to another or shared by others... We are each responsible for our own actions, and whatever we experience is the result of our own doing, not anybody else's."

"Even if you have managed to find a precious human body, you will be subject to the sufferings that are experienced by everyone without exception. These are the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. There is also the universal suffering of being separated from a loved one, being stuck with someone you dislike, coming in contact with people you hate and being separated from friends. Furthermore, everyone experiences difficulties in protecting what they have, either materially or in relationships. Everyone also experiences not getting what they want. There are various things we want and desire intensely, but circumstances make it impossible for us to acquire them. These sufferings are experienced by everyone without exception."

"Contemplating these aspects of samsaric suffering, which are experienced by each and every one of us regardless of position, wealth, beauty or talent, we realize samsara is an unsatisfactory state and something we should transcend. Generate a sense of despair from recognizing this true nature of samsara. Understand that the samsaric condition is a prison, because once you realize the imprisoning nature of samsara, you will develop an intense desire to break free. Once you have developed that intense desire to be free, your priorities will gradually change, because you will realize there is much more to existence that pursuing this or that temporary pleasure or happiness. 

"Once you have a real understanding of the unsatisfactory nature of samsara, you will want to flee from it just as animals flee in all directions when a forest catches fire. ...The way to flee the samsaric condition is to accumulate the wealth of merit and wisdom. You should become rich in inner qualities and develop the richness of the mind."

~Sandy Garson "Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Click here to request Sandy Garson for reprint permission.
Yours In The Dharma 2001-2010, Sandy Garson Copyright 2001-2010 Sandy Garson All rights Reserved

Monday, August 10, 2015

Seeing Clearly

 So much Dharma talk is about clear seeing, aka pure vision. It's about how our vision of reality is abysmally clouded by cataracts (wishful thinking) and myopia (fear). Meditation is the trick for defogging our mind, the windshield of our vehicle through this world. Waking up is really opening our eyes to what's actually happening.

Frankly, I am not very accomplished in this skill but sometimes the teachers give big how-to hints. For instance, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa had an aviary at his monastery in Sikkim. He loved birds, loved walking among them, hearing them sing because, and here's the punch line, His Holiness believed birds were dakinis, the female protectors and wisdom givers. As it happens, the Karmapas 1 to 17 trace their omniscience to women, dakinis who magically empowered them through that black hat which cradles their brain. It is exceptionally awe inspiring to see a Karmapa put on that symbol of his clairvoyance. Supposedly spun from dakini hair. 

This idea of female empowerment is not far fetched. In every known language of the world, wisdom is feminine. Biologically and mentally, women seem to know what to do. Prajnaparamita, transcendent wisdom, is female.

I have always liked this idea that birds are dakini protectors. It's not far-fetched either: dakinis are always portrayed as flying goddesses.  So now that I try to see the birds that way, it's thrilling to be lucky enough or maybe meritorious enough to have so many coming to my small property when they could just as easily be down the road. The flitting hummingbird who blesses my flowers, the trusting phoebes who've built their third nest for new life in my eaves and clear the air of mosquitoes for me, the black cormorants who comically stand like crosses atop buoys to dry their wings because they lack lanolin, the Woody Woodpecker who--with sound more amped up than a rock band-- hammers bugs out of the dead pines alerting me which ones are, the magnificently gawky great blue herons who glide in and hover transfixed on their toothpick legs waiting for dinner to float by.

More to the point, I find I am no longer annoyed by the raucous, dirty seagulls. I am instead proud that one of the pack has chosen my place as home. It uses the top of my dock as its lookout and sometimes its sleep perch. It's turned the ledge into its lunchroom. The gull waddles through the low tide mud nosing with its beak for clams, yanks them out and then has to drop them on the rocks to crack them open, but not before carrying the shell to its lookout to make sure no other gull is ready to swoop down. I've stopped being annoyed by the gull shit on the dock, started feeling proud of  that enormous pile of broken clam shells covering the ledge. I have come to think of that gull on top of my prayer flags as sent to be my personal protector.

Of course there are crows, often shrieking mobs of them that could and did drive me crazy. But now I see them as black Mahakala, the protector who removes obstacles, his blackness the flip side of Chenrezig's stainless white purity. In other words, same same. Removing obstacles to end suffering. The more the merrier even if they eat my blueberries.

This year almost every day a flock of snowy white egrets flap through the air, swoop onto the water and pull out glittering fish, and soar off. Yesterday I swam off my dock with a lifeguard: a bald eagle nestled in dead branches of a very tall tree on the other side of this narrow inlet. You can almost tell when it's here: all other bird life disappears. Eagles are unfussy omnivores: a fish here, a rodent there, a bird for dessert. When I told a monastic friend I had an eagle watching me, she said: "That was Guru Rinpoche!"

You just have to believe you are seeing straight.

~Sandy Garson "Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Click here to request Sandy Garson for reprint permission.
Yours In The Dharma 2001-2010, Sandy Garson Copyright 2001-2010 Sandy Garson All rights Reserved