Category Archives: Buddhism

No punishment. No reward.

Pain is not a punishment;

pleasure is not a reward.

– Pema Chödrön

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Has it really been 20 years?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to this place.

I know – never good, spending a lot of time thinking… about much of anything. One of the constants in my life has been the trouble that’s bubbled up as a result of too much thought.

Anyway, back in 1994, I had what can only be described as a profoundly unitive experience. I had a regular sitting practice, where I would literally be suffused with bliss. Then, when I got up and went about my daily business, the bliss would disappear, and I’d be left feeling tainted, corrupted, fallen.

I kept up the sitting, because the feeling kept me going during some very trying times. But the feeling never persisted past my sitting sessions.

Then at the most unlikely of times — standing in front of my closet, trying to decide what to wear to work at a job I hated — in the most unlikely of ways — feeling irritated, feeling disgusted with my life, my clothes, my apartment, my job, my money situation —  everything simply became connected.

There was no separation between sacred and profane, there was no difference between heaven and earth, there was no distinction between the everyday and the sublime. There was no me, there was no them, there was no closet, there were no clothes… job… anything other than pure and uninterrupted unity and flow… a sense that regardless of appearances, all was in perfect order and was waiting for me to dive in and play my part.

It was sublime. And for a short while — minutes? seconds? — I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was only ONE.

And that knowledge hasn’t stopped since.

That feeling has stayed with me over the years. And it’s bought me a lot of trouble. Because people aren’t generally into that whole unity thing, and trying to connect with people who are deeply invested in separation, who can’t imagine themselves without it, who view anyone without “boundaries” as either an intruder or a target… Yeah, that can be problematic.

Fortunately, life affords us plenty of opportunity to experiment, learn, and adapt. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past 2 decades.

20 years. Seems like just yesterday. Seems like just now.

I guess maybe it is.

Two routes

Someone recently asked — “How is that (seeking out teachers and reading the text of the Buddha himself) time and energy consuming, roundabout way?”

Here’s how:

On the left, there’s the route I prefer. On the right, there’s the seeking. I prefer the route on the left. The one on the right may ultimately lead back to realization, but there are a lot more steps involved.

two-routesI’m considering turning off comments on this blog as a whole, because it lends itself to the stuff on the right. That takes up a whole lot of time and attention, which I could be spending on my preferred path, which is shown on the left.

If people want to follow, that’s great. But all the chit-chat… seems ultimately distracting.

No Buddhists, only Buddha

The first Buddha whom modern Buddhism is based on was a regular human being. He searched and searched for the answers. Then he sat.

And he awoke.

My question is: If he was a normal human being, and he awoke by sitting, why do we think we need to do any differently?

And if he got where he was going — which is where so many of us want to go — by not searching, by not chasing, just by stopping and paying attention… why do we search and chase after what teachers promise to teach us, in hopes of getting what he got?

Why do we search and chase after what he said and did and taught?

At all?

If we human beings awake — truly awake — by cutting out interruptions and distractions and having regular direct contact with All That Is, why would we even bother with the teachers, the scriptures, the teachings, the dogmas, the discussions, the critiques… ?

If we awaken by listening to our own hearts… why ask another to tell us what is in our heart? Shouldn’t we develop that listening skill ourselves?

If we awaken by being present with What Is, right in front of us, here and now… why spend our too limited time looking for someone who will direct our attention to what that may be? Shouldn’t we get in the habit of getting real and just being honest with ourselves?

Why not just pay attention to what truly works, and what doesn’t, and then try again next time?

If we awaken by having direct contact with that which is around us… why would we for a moment spend what little precious time that we have, re-routing our attention away from our direct experience… over to a teacher… and then back to our experience?

We are so often deluded, that’s for sure. And we tend to need help, sorting things out.

But it seems to me that good energy, active direct experience, and a sincere willingness and diligence about awakening would be no less of a path than studying and following the teachings of other human beings who seem to think (or at least have been told) they’ve got it all sorted out.

The path of Living What Truly Is, without dogmas, without trappings, without theories, is just different from the established path.

But it’s still good.