Posts tagged #bodhisattva

The Story of a Vow

Brother,

 

This is the story of my vow to you and to all.

How I loved you last year under that huge full moon in July at the Rainbow Gathering in Tennessee. How passionately, how tenderly and fully.

It was cold at night in the Smoky Mountains, but you were there, my heart’s husband, with your giant kind eyes and your nimble hands. With silken blond hair and luminous soul and deep voice that soothed me like no other voice ever had.

How vastly I loved you.

 

I loved you to the furthest extent of romantic love, at a height and at a vibration that many only imagine.  And you loved me the same way.

Heaven is like that week in the Smoky Mountains.  You and I are together and we want for nothing.  You can play music for hours and see the old visions. I can give gems to the sweet travellers who pass by our blanket, and talk to them and listen to them.

At night we hold each other to sleep in the blue grass under the pulsing moon.  In the morning you find coffee for me.  In the dusk we sit at fires where beautiful friends sing haunting songs and tell stories.

You are everything, everything.

 

I look at you and feel safe and protected and known and cherished.  You hear my kind thoughts and they elevate you.

We go to swim in the jade green lake, naked and laughing with the others.

carolynandannie1rainbowgatheringtennessee

 

(me and one of my sisters, Annie Derek, at the Rainbow Gathering)

We understand one another. We are happy as children and everyone can see how dearly we love each other and delight in it. It radiates; it radiates.

It melts into our friendship towards everyone. We are the friends of everyone.

Later that month, back home in Pittsburgh, on the bright morning of the evening you proposed marriage – I knew psychically that you would do it.

carolyninlovepsychedelic

 

(me, in psychedelic love with the addressee)

I readied myself; my whole being sung in glad agreement.  I walked five miles to the meeting of the three rivers in our dream city to meet you.  As I walked I was drunk with delight.

It was July 25th, the day out of time.  We planned our honeymoon to happen at the Global Rainbow Gathering at the Mayan ruins in Mexico, on the week of December 21st, when the world would end.

Then how it stung to lose you.

 

To lose you as our big wedding came close in the fall.  It hurt like nothing I had ever anticipated.  It felt like being burned alive.  It excoriated me. It drove me mad.

And the week before we were married in mid October, the date you insisted upon, Saturn vaulted into Scorpio again for the first time in the 28 years since I was born.

Saturn, the Great Teacher, brought hard reality to me.

Saturn in Scorpio brought the reality to me that this world is not yet the Rainbow Gathering.  That you and I can’t yet just be together under the moonlight and in the forest, with abundant food and drink and song and warmth.  That we have to work, to toil, and to stress.  And that when we stress we set each other off like evil volcanoes seething.

You drank and hid away in your drawing and music.

I woke you in the nights before the wedding with my anxieties about money and work and you hissed at me like one possessed, speaking in tongues.

I was dead I was dead I was dead I was dead I was dead.

All our friends and all our family celebrated our marriage to each other in the glorying Pennsylvania countryside on a clear, cool day.

But by then you were no longer you and I was no longer me.

Instead of angels kind and radiant, beaming love in all directions, we were both strangers, uptight and insane.

We were demons to each other, cold and cruel and hateful and frightening.

fireatthewedding

(the fire at our wedding)

I couldn’t even bear to spend our wedding night with you.  And I felt humiliated beyond every degree of shame I ever thought possible.

confettiatthewedding

(confetti fallen at the wedding)

I was married in the eyes of all who knew me but my true love was nowhere I could find him. No matter how I scratched at you or wept or pounded or paced. You were a locked door with no key.

theweddingcake

(the lovely cake)

Every morning for more than a month I woke up screaming in my bed at my parent’s house.

I howled bloody murder. I kicked and shouted each day until my mother and father begged me to stop.

All I could think of or speak of was bloody murder.

 

I wanted to go to our hill in the lush Allegheny cemetery, the hill where we first celebrated our love in May without anyone else’s eyes – with just a picnic and the words of Shelley and Rilke – and there murder myself, slice open my wrists with a kitchen knife and bleed out and die.

After I would stop howling in the morning, after my parents left for work, I would go to the kitchen and sharpen the knife.

And I would pray while I sharpened it, pleading Jesus and Gautama and Mary and any saint anywhere to help me live again.

And I have to tell you, brother.  Jesus and Gautama and Mary and the saints from all times and places – they kept their vows.  They spoke to me when I was shattered.

Seek and you will find. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

 

Gradually in prayer I realized a truth.

I saw that you and I had lost each other due to our self-cherishing, due to our ego grasping, our self-centeredness.

And I saw that in my present form, as a mere limited human, I had no power to end your self-cherishing or to stop your self-destruction.

I could only end mine.

 

And I saw that if I murdered myself it would stop nothing.  It would end no one’s pain.  It would only make more pain, and I would go to hell.

And as I lay in hell all other beings on earth, all our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, would continue to suffer from their lost loves just as I suffered in those days, shouting in my bed about murdering myself as my parents cried.

I broke up with you by letter on December 21st while you traveled in Mexico on our honeymoon without me.  The world had ended.

It was unbearable, the thought of anyone else suffering as we suffered then.

I made a vow.  And I became happy again, this time with an unbreakable happiness.

I will realize Buddhahood.  I will awake utterly.

 

No matter what you decide to do with this life, I know who we are and I know what the purpose of our love is.

It is the same purpose possessed by all the loves of all lovers anywhere; it is total liberation for all.

I will fulfill that purpose, no matter if you don’t want to.  No matter if you are too afraid; no matter if you are too weak; no matter if you don’t understand.

I am not afraid. I am not too weak. I understand.

 

I have died, brother.  My will to protect my self-cherishing died in the posion flames of losing you.  The nigredo of our alchemy scorched it away.  I will never let it dominate me again.

I will leave all delusion.  I will free every being in existence, in this world and all worlds.

If you won’t free yourself, I will free you, eventually.

You can shirk your bodhisattva responsibility in this life if you want to.

You can hate, you can complain, and drink, and woo women, and amuse yourself with art and music until this round concludes.

If I determine I must no longer speak with you on earth in order to realize my goal, then I will do that without flinching.

If I should fail in this lifetime to reach Buddhahood, it doesn’t matter.  I will never never never never stop trying.  I will not forget my aspiration.

In this life or in another I will gain total virtue and siddhis of awesome power.  I will become stronger than diamond, more fleet than light.

I will find you in the bottom pit of hell with a billion others and drag you all out if I must.

 

I will not rest until every soul has been brought to perfect love, perfect freedom and perfect joy, including mine and yours.

I will take rebirth in samsara endlessly.

Like all my sisters, I am the Magadalene; I am Sophia; I am Prajnaparamita, the Mother of All Buddhas, born and unborn.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasangate, bodhi swaha!

Gone, gone, gone all together beyond, awake at last!

Nothing will stop me.  I will see samsara and nirvana become as one.  I will see you shine in your glory along with all my brothers, O Christ, O Maitreya.

This lifetime no longer exists for me except as a stepping stone to that oneness.  No semblance of love with you or anyone else will ever hold my attention again.

I have had enough of semblances, enough of illusions that can die.  I want only the deathless, and I will find it.

This letter is not an invitation to you to recreate the past with me.  Last summer was only a weak glimpse of the eternal.  It was shattered too easily by the hard facts of this existence and by our self-cherishing.

The romance of our self-cherishing cannot happen again, it’s over.

It’s only purpose was initiation.

 

The only love that is left, the only relationship there is, is the one of wisdom to compassion, of energy to emptiness, and I will realize it.

And one aeon I will be with you again under a full moon in heaven.  And this time we will be truly free.  There will be no world of theft and heartbreak to return to.  We will have dissolved it.

All our brothers and sister Buddhas will be there with us, singing near fires, telling sublime storie.

And there will be no end to this heaven, no end to anyone’s happiness.

rainbowgatheringtennessee

Beings are numberless; I vow to save them.

 

Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to exhaust them.

Dharma-gates are boundless; I vow to pass through them.

The Buddha Way is supreme; I vow to embody it.

Happy anniversary, brother.  I love everyone, and you.

 

Love,

Carolyn

Overcoming Severe Depression Series: Part 2 - Take a Heart Vow

Herein I talk about:

  • How the most healing positive thought when you're depressed isn't just optimistic - it's altruistic.
  • How to take a heart vow that will change your whole being and give meaning to your life.
  • The value of committing to the impossible.
  • Virtues can help you fulfill your heart vow - and virtue means power.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyPYndhHRtY&feature=youtu.be

What is forgiveness? - it's just giving in advance, actually

The question of just what is forgiveness and how to practice it comes up for anyone who decides to try to earnestly put Christian teachings into action.  Or for anyone who just gets sick of being angry all the time. And once you try to forgive, you realize how hard it is. What is it and how does one do it, anyway?

Here's a clue that's often left out of conventional Christian teachings about forgiveness: when Jesus suggested that you infinitely forgive everyone who has ever harmed you, praise those who have insulted you and love your enemies, he was offering a deep teaching about deleting the ego.

This is left out of most talk of forgiveness because most folks would much rather retain their egos. America is all about ego.  Just look around, man.

But as long as you value your own comfort and pleasure above the happiness of most other beings (and the action of that valuing is precisely what keeps the ego in motion), it's actually impossible for you to forgive anyone or any situation.  For anything.

Your boss who takes you for granted and makes you do tasks you don't like. The government that grabs up all your money with taxes. The ex who betrayed your trust.  The parents who didn't treat you well. When your own welfare is the most important thing to you, you can't forgive these people their offenses.

How could you? They're all delivering obvious, repeated blows to exactly what you cherish the most: your self. Your security.

What is forgiveness? It's not just pardoning...

Of course, you do pardon these offenses for the sake of civility.  You grit your teeth and bear them. Keep going. But you feel all the time how they conflict with your desires and you resent them for that.  You go through your day feeling irritated and anxious and sad. That's living in conflict.

As long as your desire is chiefly for your own welfare and the welfare of those you like, you'll always be in conflict.

You'll always feel attacked.

Why? Because most other people on earth don't value your welfare above all else.  They have other priorities.  Namely, their own welfare.  This is true of your boss and the government and your ex and in often even your parents.  And so they will be inconsiderate of you.  They'll insult you.  They'll take advantage of you.

But you can't really blame them for any of that.  Why? Because they're just doing exactly what you do to them - valuing their own ease and welfare more than they value yours.

Hmmmmmmmmm.

What is forgiveness? It's fore-giving

The only way to get out of this mess of conflict and constantly feeling offended and disappointed and depressed is to change your own value system.  As you may have noticed, you can't change other people.  You have to change you.

The only way to remain un-offended and happy when someone steps on you (which they will, guaranteed) is to be already willing, in advance, for them to take every good thing you own away from you.

Whoah.

I know that sounds extreme. Folks, it is extreme.  That's why it's been not talked about for so long.  That's why hardly any knows how to do it.

Forgiveness is extremely counter-cultural and  it's not for the faint-hearted. Most all of the laws of the great U.S.A., for example, are built around protecting private property. We're really into keeping what we have, not so much interested in giving all of it away.

Giving in Advance

So the essence of forgiveness is pre-giving. It's giving in advance. It's an attitude, a willingness that we have to deliberately cultivate.  "For" means "before."  Forgiveness just means that your giving, your attitude of total generosity, precedes their taking. Fore-give. Get it?

This is something Jesus was like, super good at.

He didn't get offended or angry when folks beat him and nailed him to a cross because he had already decided to give himself away, utterly.  He was already completely willing to give for the benefit of others.  The authorities thought it would be beneficial for Jesus to die. So Jesus was like, okay.

Dude was so peaceful about the whole bloody thing that he was more concerned for the people torturing and murdering him and how it might affect their spiritual standing than he was concerned about the fact that he was being tortured and murdered.

Most of us aren't going to be confronted with folks who want to torture and murder us.  But we will be confronted with unappreciative bosses, oppressive governments, heartbreaking exes, all-too-human parents and all the other perils of this difficult world. Most of us feel sufficiently crucified just by that.

What if you became willing, in advance, for your boss to have all your labor and comfort and ease and time, for your tyrannical government to have all your money, your lying ex to have all your dignity, your negligent parents to have all your goodwill?

Most of us immediately think, "Then I'd be a doormat."

But that's not true. You'd be a Christ.

Doormats are people who over-extend themselves out of fear.  They're afraid of being disliked, afraid of being rejected, so they try to please others in order to win approval and security. Do you think Jesus gave a fuck if anyone liked him? He most explicitly did not.

Can you see how manipulating by people-pleasing is not real generosity or fore-giveness? It's just a sneaky form of grasping and getting that takes on an air of martyrdom.

If your fore-giving comes out of a place of pure willingness instead of a place of manipulative sneakiness, it doesn't lead to you being pathetic.  It leads to you being enlightened and to you helping to enlighten all other beings.

Of course, it mind lead to you looking pathetic. Those Roman soldiers sure must have thought Jesus looked pathetic as he hung up on that awful tree.  And yet.  He was performing a service that was of inestimable value and glory.  Just about the opposite of pathetic.

Contrary to Pauline opinion, Christ didn't save us from our sins by way of turning his blood into some sort of Magic Wipe-Away-Sin Eraser Solvent that comes in convenient wine-flavored concentrate at your local rectory.

Instead, he saved us from our sins by showing us that it was fully possible for a human being to fore-give, to utterly fore-give, to remain full of peace and compassion and devotion to the welfare of others even while he himself was being cruelly tortured.

That possibility is so astounding, that example is so earth-shaking, that it has the power to completely save us from our own miserable egotism (aka, sin).

But that saving power only really comes about when we say to ourselves, "I can learn to do that, too. In fact, I will learn to do that."

Which is exactly what most of us emphatically do not say to ourselves, especially those of us who have been raised as Christians.  Because we're taught to worship Christ as if he was some impossibly-anomalous Anointed Prince of Zombies.

His attainment was rare, but he was not anomalous. His fore-giving is a vivid possibility for all of us.  Jesus was a human being whose Roman overlords didn't appreciate him, whose friends betrayed him, and whose parents were so negligent that they let him be born in a pile of straw.  He became a "son of God" because he fully realized his own potential to love as God loves - with no demands or resentment.

He showed us that we can become divine by cultivating the willingness to fore-give. To die to the illusion of our separate self. "To love one another as I have loved you."

The fruit of this fore-giveness is that we get to become awake within the dream of the world.  And I have a lot to say about that, coming soon.

 

image: [Tobyotter]

Posted on January 29, 2013 and filed under Bodhicitta, Generosity.

What to do in life: notes for those who have failed and are incredibly depressed

 I want to congratulate you on your devastating failure.

YAY! You've utterly failed! YESSSSS!

I am completely serious and not trying to be mean. I am truly, really, honestly happy for you. I'm thrilled, in fact.

I'm thrilled because you're an adult and you have no idea what to do in life.  Oh, it's not like  you never knew what to do.  You once did.  But Your Best Plan completely did not work.  In fact, it not only didn't work, it blew up in your face just like your face was Hiroshima and your plan was the atom bomb.  Thanks a lot, Harry Truman.

Now you're living in the nuclear winter of your discontent. You bitterly regret all that has transpired. You might feel like harming yourself.  At best, you probably feel like laying in your bed and only getting up to microwave a Hot Pocket, shove it in your face, read gossip blogs, smoke cigarettes and call your mom while hysterically crying.  At least that's all I felt like doing for six weeks when it happened to me.

That's okay.  Have all the Hot Pockets you want. But don't harm yourself.  You're a precious jewel. I don't care if you've massively fucked up.  My favorite people are the ones who have massively fucked up.  They're the really interesting ones.

So instead of hating yourself this as a way of finding what to do in life:

1) Take a moment to appreciate your uncomfortable state of being really clueless about what to do in life.  It hurts. Horrifically.  I know.

But! The fact that you're open and curious now about how to live life has put you leagues ahead of most human beings.

2) Consider how much your original plan, the one that failed so painfully and spectacularly, centered all around the effort  to gain security and pleasure and power for yourself.

This effort is called "self-cherishing." It's the act of trying to gather things up to make yourself safe and pleased.

It's pretty much everyone's default plan. The thing is, it doesn't really work. Think of how your self-cherishing has put in you in conflict with other people, especially with people that you love, and how much pain this conflict has caused you.

It's true that some people half-assedly make self-cherishing sorta kinda seem to work their whole lives.  They never wind up in the writhing state of abject misery which you now occupy.  But the thing is, they never really get the giant light bulb of freedom to go off either.  The fact that you're in total despair means you're unbelievably close, closer than all the middlingly okay people! - to genuine, deep awesomeness.

4)  Understand that you don't have to continue with your self-cherishing.

I know it doesn't feel that way.  It doesn't feel like you have an option way because you're addicted to it.  Self-cherishing is your smack, my junkie friend.  And you've overdosed.  It's either get clean now, die ingloriously, or dwell in derelection.

So know that you really can try something else.  Something very radically different.

It's called "other-cherishing" and it's the act of devoting yourself to the well-being of others rather than to the service of your own pleasure and comfort.

Hmmmmmmmm. I can tell if you're anything like me you're probably not too keen on this idea.

5) Don't feel bad that your mind immediately recoils at the thought of other-cherishing.

My mind recoiled intensely from it for years. "But I'm a human being, too! Who's going to cherish me?  If I devote myself to serving others, I'll just be taken advantage of and nothing good will be left for me.  Besides, there's way too many people out there, human suffering is too overwhelming.  There's nothing I can do that would truly benefit everyone."

6) Contemplate this answers to your objection: if you give up self-cherishing, the whole universe will cherish you.

The universe freaking LOVES people who are earnestly surrendering their self-cherishing more than preteen girls love Justin Bieber.  And that is a lot of love, guys.

Why? Because that's what life, the universe, and everything have wanted you to do all along.  Once you start to give up self-cherishing, everything else you do becomes massively easier and takes on much greater, more satisfying meaning. Synchronicities start whirling and the blessings start raining down.  They were there waiting for you.  But in the past they were too repelled by your grasping and greed.  Grasping and greed are repulsive.  They repel good fortune.

And also, actually, there is something you can do to benefit everyone.  You can liberate yourself from your own self-cherishing. I know I may be sounding repetitive here, but listen. This is massively, hugely beneficial.  It's so beneficial that the human race joyously celebrates for thousands of years people who have done it, people like Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the Buddha and Rumi and Mirabai and St. Francis.   You can wake up from your nightmare of chasing security and pleasure.  As soon as you do this, you'll no longer generate conflicts everywhere you go.  Instead you'll create joy and be a place of kind refuge and calm for others.

To understand this, just consider how much pain others have given you when they've behaved in self-centered, self-cherishing ways and trampled over your feelings.  Your own self-cherishing has caused at least that much pain for others.  If you relinquish it, you'll stop causing that pain.  You won't be irritable and easily offended.  Instead, you'll be welcoming and warm to be around.  Folks won't have to tip-toe on egg shells around you.  They'll feel honored and loved in your presence.  And this means there's a good chance that they will be inspired to surrender their own self-cherishing just by knowing you.  They'll succeed, and then they'll go around inspiring others to do the same.  Everyone will get freer and freer, safer and safer, happier and happier.  It's a virtuous circle.

Literally, you can deeply contribute to everyone waking up from the nightmare.

7) Consider that your belief that you can't give up self-cherishing isn't true.

I certainly used to believe that giving it up was impossible- I could see that it would be theoretically great to be able to let go of my self-centeredness, but I just had no notion how to do that.

At some level, I didn't really want to learn because I still thought I could make self-cherishing work for me.  Well, that turned out to be assuredly not the case.

Happily for you and for me, the processes for ending self-cherishing do exist if you've had enough of your confused pain and you're willing to try something radically different.  The four immeasurables cultivation and tonglen are a great place to start and can go a very long way to rubbing out your self-cherishing. Try them yourself.

8) Seriously.  Tell yourself that every day for a month you'll do four immeasurables cultivation and the meditation on exchanging yourself with others.

And then do it.  Make it a higher priority than watching cute cat videos on youtube.

9) The more you do those practices, the more clear everything else will become.

Your whole mental and emotional make up will shift.  Your perception will no longer be so distorted.  Your creativity will activate like never before.  You'll know what to do.

10) Write to me and tell me how it's going: sweetsongofjoy at gmail dot com.  I would love to know.

 

 

Dream Yoga Journal: Day 2

Okay, so my dream yoga process is going slow and steady.  I'm following Rinpoche Wangyal Tenzin's suggestions in The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep to the best of my ability.

 

What this entails:

1) Practicing, during my waking hours, becoming aware that my waking life is itself a dream. Because the whole point of Tibetan dream yoga, as I gather, is to become fully lucid - i.e., a Buddha - not just lucid in one's night time dreams.

2) Practicing zinhe, or calm-abiding meditation. Which is really hard for me. I get super-antsy when I'm told to just "follow my breath." I could do brahma-vihara practice for hours... but breath-watching... yeesh.  This is how I know I'm getting serious about the whole bodhisattva trip ("meditative concentration" is one of the 6 perfections that bodhisattvas need to cultivate in order to fulfill their mission), because I could never be persuaded to do this sheerly for my own benefit.  It's sooooo boring.

3) Doing a breathing exercise before bed designed to gather the awareness in the central channel of the body, which I'm pretty sure is known as the sushumna in sanskrit.  I totally forget the Tibetan word for it.

4) Doing my rather half-assed version of guru yoga. It's a meditation that involves imagining that one is receiving blesings from one's guru and mind-heart-melding with her.  I don't yet have an official guru to yoga with, but I'm very fond of Lama Thubten Yeshe because of his fantastic Introduction to Tantra which blew my mind, so I'm working with imagining him in the mean time. I think he's cool with it.

5) Imagining that I'm surrounded by protective dakinis as a fall asleep.  Dakinis are enlightened tantric lady-beings.  Actually, I've been imagining that I'm surrounded by whatever the male version of dakinis is.  Dakas, or something like that? I find it a bit more reassuring. Not that ladies aren't tough, but I'm trying to work with my deep-seated conditioning here.

6) Imagining that there's a glowing four-petaled red lotus on my throat chakra, with a radiant Tibetan letter A in the center.

7) Telling myself that I intend to remember my dreams and be lucid.

Dream Yoga Progress

So far, I haven't gotten close to becoming lucid - but it's only Day 2, so that seems fine. And my dreams have been a little on the side of ho-hum.

Like, last night I dreamt that all these dudes were hitting on me and trying to woo me with kale-flavored ice cream.  Lately, a bunch of dudes have indeed been hitting on me (note to dudes: I'm celibate this year and only interested in being friends, it's truly nothing personal), and I've been eating a ton of kale, so I think that qualifies as what the dream yoga tradition calls a "samsaric" dream - a dream that's just made up of karmic traces playing themselves out in the free-wheeling realm of sleep.

Samsaric dreams can be useful in that they reflect to us pretty explicitly what we're thinking and feeling.  They do this at a more intense level than we may be able to allow ourselves to see in waking life.  They make it hard to deny the forces of desire or aversion in ourselves, for example.  But they don't contain any super-profound truths or revelations.

Truths and revelations are the realm of what the dream yoga tradition calls "clear light" dreams.  Clear light dreams come from a deeper place than just our own personal karmic residues.  They come out of a place that includes the collective unconscious and the teachings of nonphysical beings.  Which is, you know, rad. They often involve clairvoyant perception of some sort.

We all experience clear light dreams randomly at times in our lives.  As I gather, the point of the first stage of dream yoga is to increase the frequency with which we enter into clear light dreams, decrease the samsaric dreams, and gradually become lucid within the clear light dreams.

So I'll keep you posted.  In the mean time, got any lucid dreaming tips for me?

 

image: [Wonderlane]

Posted on January 26, 2013 and filed under Dream Yoga.

How to be an Optimist: See Life as a Dream

A young man wrote to me about his own pessimism (co-occuring with a scientific attitude toward life) and asked me what spurs on my optimism.  I wrote this reply:

Optimism and Transcendentalism

I guess a long time ago in my philosophical searchings I examined the kind of scientific materialist attitude you seem to be describing and.... utterly rejected it. I'm a transcendentalist - which means I see the world and everything in it (including my own self) as a kind of deep holographic dream projected by "my" consciousness (I put "my" it quotes because it's "mine" in the sense that I can make choices that influence it, but it's not mine in the sense that there ultimately is no me since "Carolyn" is just another part of the dream.... sorry if that's hard to follow, it gets a little complex).

Changing the Dream

The reason all this transcendentalism adds up to optimism is this: if everything is a dream, then it can change from a terrible dream into a beautiful dream. Whether the dream is beautiful or terrible depends on what angle of light, or motivation, I'm sending through the hologram projector (my brain). If I'm sending the self-centered motivation of gathering up pleasure and security and power just for myself, then I'm going to be faced with a hologram of an utterly ugly, difficult, barren and horrible world. I'll be in endless conflict with the people around me. I'll be miserable. I've spent years living in that "reality" and it's awful. I've also dipped down into that recently - I was hugely depressed and suicidal. I had lost my way and wound myself into a big mess of compassionless horror.

Generating Awake-heart aka Bodhicitta

On the other hand, I've found that if I'm sending the other-cherishing motivation of being committed to bringing all creatures into happiness (i.e., non-attached and unending bliss, freedom from addiction and craving) and I'm willing to project limitless loving-kindness (i.e., deliberately being willing to love and wish happiness for people I don't like and resent, being willing to delight in their triumphs and to work to spare them from pain)...

...well, then the hologram becomes beautiful, synchronous, full of joy and meaning and connection.

Life becomes easy and I find I can fulfill my basic needs and my big aspirations without much worry. I mean, there are still so many challenges - but the challenges are fascinating instead of frightening. It's not like hunger and war and tragedy and sickness and misfortune disappear from the dream - but they don't oppress me in the same way. Instead there's a light within me that is willing to take responsibility for healing all that pain in the world and in myself.

And ultimately, I think, this process of lightening and en-blissening just goes on and on until the dream becomes very transparent and dissolves entirely, leaving the consciousness in Nirvana or the Kingdom of Heaven or what-have-you.

My optimism is essentially this: that it's possible for everyone, including myself, to dwell in ecstatic happiness, and that there are things I can do to bring that about... and the very process of working to bring this about is incredibly fulfilling and fun. It's basically Mahayana / Vajranya Buddhism but I like to spice it up by thinking a lot about Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

I don't know if those are flavors of Buddhism that you've investigated, but I sure love them. I've also been influenced strongly by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Don Miguel Ruiz and Byron Katie.

Man, I could go on and on. I'm sure I've used some shorthand in explaining this that doesn't make sense and sounds very fluffy. But I assure you, it all makes razor-sharp sense in my mind.

Warmth,

Carolyn

image: [seyed mostafa zamani]