A Journey Into The Dark

journey-beginsThere is a difference between reality and truth.  Reality is what we imagine life is, truth is what life actually is.  Every time something happens we imagine what it means and weave it into the story of our lives. Let’s examine this- first there are the facts- perhaps a telephone call was made and there was no answer.  Then there is the attempt to decide what it means that the telephone was not answered.  Figuring out what something means is pure imagination.  Reality is created from imaginings while the Truth is created from simple facts with no interpretation.

What you know to be the truth about you does not need to be interpreted.   To say I have a heart of service could be interpreted that you a good person. But it really it is only a statement that acknowledges that you have a heart of service. To say- I love people could be interpreted that you are spiritual. But in truth it simply means that you love people.  One is truth and the other an imagination of meaning.  This could also be reversed.  I was angry, therefore, I am a bad person.  I told a lie, therefore, I am not spiritual.  Accepting what is without trying to connect it to another concept leads to freedom of mind.

awakeningWhen we take a journey into the dark (of interpretation) to find the light of truth…we are attempting to find the thing itself not our stories about it.  So as we take the journey of the Metta (loving kindness) we will need to work our way past the interpretations and stories about appearances into the truth of each statement.

The Metta
May all beings have-
Fresh air and water
Food to eat
A home & someone to love
A meaningful purpose
Be well and happy
And Free from Suffering

Life is not wonderful because you have thoughts and interpretations about what is happening.  Although there isn’t anything wrong with having thoughts about your life-try to think about the possibility of separating fact from generalization and storytelling.  Life can be wonderful when you live in the Light of Truth knowing you are sacred, compassionate, and human spirit.  So, try to allow your stories to mean less and your life become more meaningful.

PerfectionismIt is a fact that we are going to like some people and not particularly like others.  This does not mean we are bad, unspiritual, or emotionally defective in some way.  Not liking some people doesn’t mean anything unless we decide it means something. Remember that there is a deeply entrenched belief system about perfection.  Most of us are trained into the idea that there is a certain standard by which we must live.  As soon as we begin to measure ourselves against some imagined state of perfection we are creating a delusion, a fanciful measurement that will most likely find us wanting .  This is not real!

Going into the dark is finding your way out of the illusions and imaginings into what is awake and true. 

hellobabyisitdarkWe are sacred because we exist.  Because we are.  Because we are a unique expression of Great Spirit energy.  Some people would tell us that in order to be sacred we must be able to take action.  But a rock is sacred and it is not taking action- it’s only being.  What exists can be considered sacred.  It has life- even a stone has life- it has an indwelling spirit.  One of the challenges that happened for humankind was when we decided we were the only ones with an indwelling spirit.  Some people have even decided that not all humans have an indwelling spirit so they can be killed or used in some way because they are not sacred.

 All life is sacred and precious and a unique expression of divine creative energy of the All Spirit Beingness. Before we were born we were in the dark.  There was nothing for us to do and we did not understand that we were supposed to be bored.  We just existed.  For most of us- our experience with our mother was that we were precious even when she could not see us or hold us.  Let us go back into the dark womb of the Great Mother so that we can find the Light.  There is nothing to do there.  There are no questions to ask.

Go into her dark womb and allow yourself
to be changed by the Great Mother.mother_stars_s

An Unexplored Country

The Buddha taught the principals of emptiness and interdependence as a way to free ourselves from suffering.  On the spiritual path and especially in a monastery it helps to have a basic understanding of these two principals.  Empty_bookEmptiness is not the absence of things…it is an understanding that nothing exists outside of a context.  We exist because we have a context: gender, age, family of origin, a job, an education, a set of beliefs about the world and how it works, and an environment in which we live, i.e. a town, a country, a geographical location.  All these things are the context in which we function.  Because we are not independent of existence outside of a context we are empty and interdependent upon that context.

In our context, our story of life, we have the ability to act and react, judge and respond, ignore what makes us uncomfortable and strive for those things that are pleasing, to avoid danger and create safety.  quality-friendsThis is what we are doing every moment of every day…acting and reacting to the circumstances of our lives both inwardly and outwardly. We become dependent upon controlling our outer or inner experiences so they will be what we need and want them to be. In this pattern we forget that we have a choice about how to think.

Another challenge that gets in the way of community living is when we feel responsible for the emotions of others and need to placate distraught individuals in order to be safe- but disaster is usually the result of this emotional enslavement.  Living the monastic life means that we will have ample opportunity to experience our gloomy, addictive emotions because we will be living with people who are likely to trigger our childhood memories and responses. vpc_clinging If we learn to accept what we feel- knowing it is only a feeling– not a truth- we can begin to free ourselves from suffering.  When we are not blaming those around us for adverse emotional experiences we can free ourselves from suffering.  This is a difficult journey.  It’s difficult because we are already addicted to our favorite childhood strategy and reach for it without thought.  But on the passage to enlightenment we discover that it’s our clinging and attachment to these tactics that cause our suffering- not the people around us.

To climb a mountain we must be prepared for reaching the top.  If we are climbing Mt. Rainier or Mt. Everest we can follow the pre-existing trails and reach the top with determination and planning.  But if we are climbing in unknown territory we must forge our own trail.  When we go trekking into unexplored country we have to assess what resources will be required- mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  As we begin this journey toward our compassionate heart we will need to assess our beliefs, values, survival strategies, karmic patterns, and unconscious desires. DSC09401

Every day, every individual has to engage in activities during which he is determining what he thinks, feels, and wishes to do about a situation or relationship.  Every action we take, every decision we make, and every thought we think consciously or unconsciously is based on our ideals, values, and beliefs.  We create our life story by these methods, solve our problems through these measurements, choose our friends and enemies by these ideals, and construct our karmic future with each decision we implement.  It’s essential that we are moving toward something, not creating another way to feel less-than, guilty about, ashamed of, or create new fodder for inner self-hate dialogues.   Let’s remember that karma is a core value- something we have identified as essential to our well-being.

Karma cannot bind us if we change our mind.  We learn to change our mind by examining our habituated feelings and our interpretation of what those feelings mean.  We may always have the same feelings when we are hurt, frightened, angry, upset, or stressed…but we can choose to interpret them in a new way. Earth-4039 We can discover what need is not being met and what values are not being expressed by ourselves so we feel that we have to react to outer circumstances. Instead of repeating old habits that lead to suffering we can give ourselves permission to acknowledge our values and find ways to express those values even in difficult situations. We may also discover that in attempting to seek out a special someone or place that seems to contribute, grant, or provide us with pleasant emotions will become unnecessary because we can allow ourselves to provide what we require in order to thrive.

Once we understand the responsibility we have for creating our emotional context we will have more energy, ability, and motivation to experience the reason we are in the monastery in the first place.  Remember we chose to enter a monastery to create a life of Prayer, Pohwas, and Peace for the benefit of all beings.  We understood that we wished to be the face of Great Mother, Great Father, or Great Weaver within the world.  We wanted to learn to respond as a Great Being would respond.