2023, December, Issue 76
life after lifetime
this creature, that being,
trapped in this endless cycle, this messy place
of delusion and angst, and woe,
this very dull place filled with so much commotion,
spinning, vibrating, expanding, contracting
in this energetic eternal moment
that does not exist;
disturbed beings screaming in the night
explosive beginnings, and endings
all the world spinning,
new worlds forming
night sky turning to day
animals, gods, beings of every sort demanding
demanding compliance with their wishes,
terrible creatures from hell gnashing their teeth
all the turbulence of vast unending eons
coming together in this present expression
of what is, what is not
vast eternal confusion manifesting
appearing to the senses as this or that
vast eddies of thought
again, again, again
here we are
A poem from, The Frog: A Spiritual Autobiography, Spanning Many Lifetimes, pp. 79-80, © 2021.
Since the day we were born, people have insisted that we believe everything that they believe, right down to the slightest detail, behaving in ways that give them reassurance. We are pressured into adopting their nonsense. If we do not adhere, we have problems, we won’t fit in. If we do adhere, we can be guaranteed all of the problems that nonsense carries, as well as continuance in cyclic existence. We will remain trapped by whatever delusion is thrust upon us, as well as the karma of that. It’s a difficult request, especially when you have discovered something genuine about yourself.
Being on a genuine Spiritual Path will mean that you will likely feel lonely from time to time. A genuine Spiritual Path means that you are no longer clinging to nonsense generated by others, or self. You have the full commitment to discover reality, which means awakening.
This time of year, it is not uncommon to find yourself at various gatherings. It doesn’t matter what your faith, background, geographical location or cultural context might be, this is the holiday season around the world. Diwali, Thanksgiving, Bodhi Day, Hannukka, Christmas, Kwanza, the New Year, Festivus—whatever--these are just a few. Businesses, institutions, families, communities and religious organizations all have events. It’s difficult to know how to fit in, especially if you have embarked on a Spiritual Journey.
In the last few gatherings that I’ve been to, I have found myself explaining who I am, which always proves to be awkward. It’s unpleasant for me to even think about it. I’m an architect, a writer, an author, a business owner, a tree hugger, a recluse, a spiritual friend, a poet, a teacher, a public speaker, a photographer, a musician, an artist, a father, a husband, a Buddhist, a Dzogchenpa, a Rigdzin, a Délok and so many other things . . . and none of that really explains my life. I will find myself answering questions about a few things that I’ve done, then someone else might chime in, letting people know I’ve done other things that don’t seem related. This creates strange reactions. It’s awkward. I don’t fit in. It really doesn’t matter what the setting might be.
It is said that a Bodhisattva must leave their homeland. I’ve thought about this over the years. I think what it really means is that your homeland will leave you when you are on a Spiritual Path; and, by this, I mean you will never fit in if you are someone who has decided to awaken. People are very uncomfortable when they are confronted with someone who is not fully committed to remaining in cyclic existence, which means poisoned by ignorance, attraction and aversion.
People have expectations of us that aren’t always clear. On top of this, they want reassurance that whatever they believe is the final answer. This is what they really want; and, giving that would be a huge disservice to them, preventing their awakening.
At holiday gatherings this becomes especially awkward, if you are committed to awakening. Being on a Spiritual Path will mean that you already know that awakening means going beyond the search for final answers. You won’t be able to tell people this, or it will cause holiday turmoil. So, here you will be keeping something to yourself that would be the greatest gift you could ever give. Although it is customary to just be yourself, this is only true if you adhere to the group consensus about various ideas about reality.
Being on a Spiritual Path will mean that you won’t fit in. The Path itself is a lonely place. Your awakening must be done in isolation, with your own efforts, with your own discoveries and realizations. I think that this is why many people who meditate move to remote locations. It was certainly a driving factor in my decision.
I want you to know this: At each step in the Spiritual Path, it is worth it. When Bodhicitta arises, it is worth it. When you renounce, it is worth it. When you discover emptiness, you will see with clarity that it is worth it. When you realize the Nature of Mind, you will know that it is worth it. When you fully awaken, you will know that it was done for the benefit of all.
Blessings in Light,