Seeing Clearly

If seeing clearly is the goal, why is it then that every time I see my conditioning clearly I muddy it in the days that follow.

Muddied by thought, by my search to know more, until its nearly forgotten. If it wasn’t for this ground that holds all activity the insight wouldn’t bubble back to the surface in time. And the process of muddying can start all over again.

Sitting With The Weight Of The World On My Lap

I sat there with her
sitting on my lap.
Much bigger than
she use to be —
held in my arms.
And I’m watching her
and I’m thinking.
And I’m thinking.
I’m thinking, will
I forget this too.

And now I’m trying to remember
all those moments I swore I’d never
forget. They’re lost in some kind of
silence that somehow knows
there’s something missing.
That’s some scary shit. Because
I can see a future where I don’t
even recognize the love
that got me to that point.
There is, however, a little pin-
prick of light, a bit of
hope in the mess
I’m sitting in; I can feel
the joy. I can feel the remnants
of the joy those memories
held, in my bones, those memories,
they’re in my heart, and now
I think if I were to continue
this contemplation the feeling
would grow and my rib cage would crack.

Now I’m snapping out of it.
Now it’s clear; it’s no wonder
I can’t remember.
I’m not even here.

Listen (Practice)

I’ve had a head cold over the past week which has really hampered my desire and ability to write poetry, as well as for my meditation practice. I’m just starting to come out of the haze and getting my footing back into some kind of normalcy. Without the practice, without the regimen of daily meditation all I have left is coffee. Anyway it occurred to me that I do still, in fact, have the practice. I do have ways to focus my mind, to keep it oriented even if my nose is clogged! This is through the practice of listening, listening deeply without adding anything (via thought) to the moment, just supporting and understanding, being there for the person I’m in conversation with and not letting things distract me from this purpose. It’s difficult and so often -before I’ve even recognized it- thoughts have run away from the situation, but if practiced with regularity, just like a daily meditation practice, this should take on a more important role in my practice, even more so than breathing perhaps. Deep and active listening comes from listening that is not narrative driven, that which has no agenda, or judgments, it comes from wisdom, from the ground. Deep listening is trying to understand the other person’s narrative; the other person’s wants and needs without adding anything to it. Could we also use this for ourselves? Yes!

 Thich Nhat Hanh: Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing. 

http://cultureofempathy.com/References/Experts/Thich-Nhat-Hanh.htm

I really struggled the other day when a friend was talking to me about his crappy weekend. It was one of those times when one bad thing gets compounded by many other bad things. And as he was telling me about it, I knew there to be times when I was distracted by cars driving by or the breeze in the trees, but thinking back on the conversation the thing that was most distracting was my thoughts driving me away from what he was saying, and the majority of these thoughts were based on the fact that I didn’t have the right thing to say, that I was somehow not a very good friend because I didn’t have any good advice or comforting words for him. So my narrative drove me away from the conversation and it became very self centered and stressful as I bashed myself over and over again. I was going in and out of these thoughts and came to rest on at least not adding to his frustration by turning it into a bitch fest. At the least don’t add to his depression by gossiping about the people causing his problems. But of course the more I focused on staying away from this course of action, the more I was drawn to it and I heard myself saying things that opened the wound even more.

This situation happened before I remembered that deep, active listening can and should be a part of my daily practice, but even at the time I felt embarrassed and knew that I only served to bring back up the difficult things he was dealing with.

Always following my own narrative. I’m always following my own narrative, even when I’m taking interest in someone else’s it still comes back around to filter through my own. Why? Why is this so? Is this the mechanism that contributes to an overarching feeling of alienation? This is why listening deeply has become such an important focus for my practice, because when I listen deeply to others I force myself out of this mechanism that revolves around the watcher (ego). I lose myself in their words, their world, their problems, which for a short instance all become mine as well as theirs; ours.

A Brief History of My Dog My dog is a rescue. Apparently he was being neglected and abused when he was found wondering the streets. He had been being left outside and found multiple times before taken in to be offered to a home that would love him. We found him and gave him that love. Though with a bit of a caveat. We had many instances of him going potty inside and at that time I had no control over my anger whatsoever and there were plenty of times when we came home and found he’d pooped in the house or gone through the trash and I’d take my anger and frustration out on him. Not something I’m proud of today and something that I have to face as every time I raise my voice I see him slink down and head to his kennel. He picks up on my moods very easily and it’s amazing to see, however something that also serves as a reminder for how I treated him in the past. Had I handled the situation with a little more understanding and compassion he may have worked through whatever it is that causes him to shit in my house! Now when I take time out, he goes and refuses to get near it, pulling away on his leash. He’s so afraid of his own shit. The whole of this history for being hurt and punished for it comes up each and every time he sees it.

And I think we are much the same with our own shit, our past beliefs about ourselves which we’ve made this whole narrative about comes up again and again each moment. It comes up in our narrative in our minds and we follow it without question. Perhaps my friend had already accepted and gotten over the bad weekend and all he really needed was someone to hear his story. Perhaps he just needed to know that someone else had had similar experiences and hearing someone share them would’ve helped him most, but while following my narrative, I could only think about how I didn’t have the right words for him and so was a bad friend and slunk back into my shell and didn’t provide any of that!

I think that if I can meet my own shit (and my kids, and wife!) with the understanding and compassion that comes from deep listening it can provide many opportunities for new growth. Seeing deep listening as a daily practice, much like meditation, really is the first step.

This fresh new growth
leaves not yet unfolded
has already been chewed through

Buddhadoshā

Have you ever had a word, perhaps foreign, perhaps just some gibberish made up in your head, come to mind? Has that ever happened? because it happened to me recently. The word? Doshā, sometimes Dosā, apparently in Japanese, dôsha. A word I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard before, and though it’s entirely possible, even probable that I read it somewhere and stored it away in the ol’ subconscious, still it feels surreal, meaningful, even spiritual. So a quick Google search to find its meaning, because for it to have any connection, any real meaning it has to be defined. Buddhadôsha, not sure why but, no results on Google. I figured well dôsha is the actual word, so what, if anything, does dôsha mean? Is it even a word or a complete fiction?

Dosha, in sanskrit, according to Google, literally translates as fault/disease. Since this unknown word with unknown origin appeared in my mind, it must clearly mean something in particular about me, thus the reason for trying to ascribe meaning to it, so I can also ascribe meaning to myself. And to think the word that represents me means Afflicted. That won’t do. Though it does sort of ring true to some extent and, well has sort of defined the way I’ve thought about myself for a while, but still not the meaning I was hoping for.

I also saw a lot of Japanese results come up, apparently the Japanese word means earth, sediment, sand. There’s even a kanji to go with it, I could be one of those people that get the tattoo! (Tongue firmly in cheek) Anyway, I like that result better. The ground, the base, the support. Different throughout the world’s regions, though always the same, always providing, sustaining. Like the earth’s people in a way.

After some further research I came to find the Wikipedia for dosha. Apparently there are three doshas that are the base for a person’s body and are the makeup for the physiological functions. So again the ideas of base, support, and sustaining qualities come up (although these doshas seem to have a negative connotation, perhaps someone who knows better can help me out here.) Further research thanks to this site which was awesome and extremely helpful, found that within Buddhism dosha is the pali word for aversion; or anger, within the three poisions  of the mind.

Now things seem to be getting more personal. I have struggled with anger in particular for a long time. Only recently have I become strong enough to try to do something about it.

Dosa has destructive nature. It is very ugly. It hurts anyone anything. Dosa destroys its home and its environment. In the presence of dosa everything wicked and unhumanly things can be committed.

Dosa is aggressive, just like a snake which has been hit. The function of dosa is spreading of itself or writhing as
when poison takes effect. Dosa is harmful for mind and body. Because of dosa our appearance becomes ugly: we may become red in the face, our features become unpleasant and the comers of our mouth droop.

Dosa can also appear as fear. When there is fear one dislikes the object which is experienced. Fear is harmful for mind and body.

-from the above mentioned site

As you learn in Buddhism there is no fight, no good vs. evil, because within one thing there is everything else; enlightenment lies within your afflictions; on one side is hatred or anger on the other side of that hatred or anger is transformed into love, and compassion. So our afflictions are not something to run away from, or to do battle with, or to be shoved away and forgotten about. This is in a lot of respects a goal for me, I have, I believe, a high capacity for love and compassion, because of my struggles with anger. I see anger in a different way, I see the way I transmit it to my wife and kids, I see the way others use anger, I hear the news that is fueled with anger, and I want for nothing more than to be a support, a base, a sustaining soil for the qualities of love and compassion.

So welcome to the world Buddhadoshā. Buddha, because it is the source, the source of all the psychology, philosophy, and spirituality that wisdom springs from. And doshā because it, apparently, has some meaning to me.