Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not sharing.”
The truth for a grade school student is not the same as the truth for a senior citizen. Perspective is the reason we believe one thing or another at any given time. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. This means that we have more knowledge of the bigger picture as we mature and travel along the road to truth. We should be acquiring sophistication and compassion for other living things as we become more visionary on this path. Observation of the world political situation leads us to believe that we are failing at that mission. We have wandered off the route into unmapped territory. Dark ignorance and evil intent appear to be taking ground in the battle against harmony and peace.
In all fairy tales and mythology the hero learns from tragic mistakes. At the end of the story the moral is clear and the lesson is imprinted in the mind of the audience. Once committed the hero has no choice. Like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, the hero is taught mastery through trust in divine guidance in freaky circumstances. He fights the symbolic battles he finds obstructing his way. The hero is fated to go all the way. That is what distinguishes his character from others. He finishes the difficult job, then shares the wisdom he has found within his quest. He saves the day and teaches an important social and political object lesson to the people.
Action without attachment was the lesson Krishna taught Arjuna during the heat of battle. It is impossible to know the moral of a story until it ends, so it is imperative that the hero finish his job. As I experience the presidential politics of 2016 I certainly hope there is a blue guy driving the chariot who will lead us into a surprise ending. These are certainly freaky circumstances with strong catalytic tendencies. How do you think this story will end, gentle reader? Fill in the blank.
I had a magical experience that changed my life last year. During the government shut down my friends and I were treated to a tour of a working monument to justice in San Francisco. The very special building, which is owned by the taxpayers, was still open for business while the irresponsible part of the federal government was having an irrational fit at the taxpayers’ expense. We each had a chance to put on a robe and pose with the babes of justice, as my friend who works with them calls them. We all felt very special and talked later about being so lucky and having so much fun that day. Sometimes events take on more meaning as time reveals a larger meaning. I was being baptized on that bench and accepting a big mission that I recognize now. We were joking and laughing, really being free and happy, but a vow to liberate others through justice was happening at the same time. Let me explain:
My first teacher of Buddhism was Claude D’Estree, a monk who hangs tight with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. When we were lucky enough to receive teachings from his holiness in September of 1993 Claude flew down from Denver once a month for a year before his arrival to initiate us to Tibetan Buddhist teachings in preparation. We had classes at St Phil’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, and held retreats on that beautiful campus to learn about the three jewels. The subject was new to me, but Claude is an excellent teacher. From the dedication of merit to dependent arising, he covered the material in such a way that very complex concepts became clearer. I will never forget an example he used to explain compassion, using his own personal life experience.
He had worked as a federal prosecutor, who has the obvious job of defending justice and fighting evil. This job exposed him to egregious wrongdoing. As a monk he has the job of using compassion to save the world from pride, delusion, and anger by practicing patience. This seems like a paradox, and it is. He taught us that the most compassionate thing to do for people who are delusional, destructive and angry is to stop them. The trick about doing it as a prosecutor-monk, or monk-prosecuter is to do it without any attachments or aversions, in other words, without anger. Compassion turns anger into patience, an alchemical process that takes much dedication and study to achieve. He had to prosecute very serious criminals in the line of duty. He had also taken the Bodhisattva vow to return to earth until all beings are free and happy. He has undertaken this giant mission to meditate and cultivate diligence for those whose minds are slack and wondering ( a seemingly unending group). Since we all were given the rare opportunity to tread the path of buddhahood Claude was showing us how to meditate and turn our own merit into bliss for others who are suffering. I think of him and his teaching often when my patience is challenged.
The year of study and retreat was a deeply religious experience, but did not require the student to become a proclaimed Buddhist, or join any group or movement. The teachings were given to help us comprehend the even deeper experience of our time with his holiness. We were initiated to Green Tara and introduced to Shantideva. These are deep teachings that can take lifetimes to comprehend, but the Dalai Lama encouraged the women in the class by telling us that we have a better chance of spontaneous or instant enlightenment than the guys. We learned the mantra for Green Tara, who has the specialty of speed. She is the Mother of all Buddhas who saves us from our envy, wrong view and avarice.
For years I have been involved in an anger/patience/justice drama about my home. Now I am going to have to do some serious patience practice while I sue the flaming pants off the city of Tucson for violating federal revenue law and obstructing justice like crazy fire. I am calling on Green Tara to save me from attachment and doubt in order to liberate our neighborhood from evil. I have taken the vows too, and have a responsibility. Green Tara and I are now both babes of justice. Wish me luck as I walk through the valley of the shadow of anger.