We are The Birds That Stay

‘Tis not that Dying hurts us so –
‘Tis Living – hurts us more –
But Dying – is a different way –
A Kind behind the Door –

The Southern Custom – of the Bird –
That ere the Frosts are due –
Accepts a better Latitude –
We – are the Birds – that stay.
Emily Dickinson

So continuing on with the theme of ‘the immoveable/indestructible you’. And now adding to that thought, why is being mortal such a drag! Buddhism puts it bluntly: We have what we don’t want and we want what we don’t have! Living is about turning that little problem on it’s head. The continuing attempt to do that leads to constant frustration/anger. Which leads to our protecting ourselves by believing things are not the way they are. Or at least not as bad as we think, Oh, and we didn’t want/not want (what ever it was) anyway which is delusion. That’s suffering and the teaching contained within the Twelve Steps of Dependent Origination.is a detailed description of WHY it’s endless. That link takes you to an explanation that could be educational without too much brain pain!

I’m sure I’m not the first person who has thought or wondered about death and become afraid or at the very least disturbed. However for the most part we don’t, we get on with living. Best we can. However when in more reflective moments we may wonder why living is oddly unsatisfactory even when we have what we want. Being alive, or dead, are not choices however the HOW of living (and dying) is. Here is a story.

A nun I’m acquainted with told of a letter she had received from a woman in a prison in Asia somewhere. The details of why she was there I can’t remember but I think she might have been a political prisoner. The woman wrote, Every day the guards take me out of the cell and beat and abuse me. And every day I do my sitting and walking meditation. She concluded by saying, ‘And I am FREE!’ That is an example of spiritual indestructibility. She had passed through the gate, or door, of life and death and found ‘Kind’ behind it.

We are the birds that stay.

The Indestructible You

When all around is falling trees
to run?
to hide?
to freeze to the spot?

Life threatening
circumstances?
RUN! HIDE! STOP STILL!
Obviously

Within fear
there is that
Which cannot
be destroyed

The photograph was sent to me by a friend in Oregon.
I wanted to share a photo with you which is my reminder to remain still. I had 3 large trees hit my roof in December during a particularly harsh ice storm (they’re saying the worst in 50 years) and after they were removed from the house, my back yard was pretty much demolished. And yet here’s Buddha, sitting still in the middle of it!

Yes, Buddha images have a way of reminding the beholder of immovability and by extension indestructibility. And it isn’t just because a Buddha statue isn’t going to physically move anyway! They seem to reflect back a Truth about ourselves which lies just below everyday consciousness. There are many ways to talk about this however talk will not make it real. Even sitting still physically oneself,  in formal meditation, most likely will not confirm this truth in your own mind. Although it can be confirmed for those who are in hugely vulnerable circumstances. (More on that another time.)

What does bring this deeper truth to the surface is AFTER  pulling through something which you thought would destroy you. Grief can be like that. Unbelievable physical or mental pain can be like that. And having your home nearly destroyed can be like that. My correspondent wrote: Of course, I am also grateful for my many years of Buddhist practice, which has helped me to deal with the stress of the consequences of the storm and the continuing wintry weather we’re having.

I’d like to say that the The indestructible You is ever-present, in all circumstances,  you don’t need to manufacture or conjure up something more than you are already. I’m reminded of when I was walking (scrambling) along Sharp Edge with my walking companion, back in the glory days of late summer. Reflecting on the climb he remarked I didn’t appear that scared. I was! But somehow I was able to remain reasonably composed in the midst of testing physical circumstances. Call it survival instinct, call it what you like.

Up there on an arm of Blencathra  that which is ever-present PROVED  present. That’s the case too for the ordinary every-day of the very ordinary week – we just don’t notice. Which is just as well.

One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die

This is an article about a triple amputee. Who became a doctor and pioneered an approach to dying which is all about living to the full. I especially like his debunking of…..how should I put this? Nope, read the whole article and see what you think.

The following comes right at the start of Dr. Miller”s story when he was coming to terms with having just had his third limb amputated. His left arm.

It wasn’t that Miller was suddenly enlightened; internally, he was in turmoil. But in retrospect, he credits himself with doing one thing right: He saw a good way to look at his situation and committed to faking that perspective, hoping that his genuine self might eventually catch up. Miller refused, for example, to let himself believe that his life was extra difficult now, only uniquely difficult, as all lives are. He resolved to think of his suffering as simply a “variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard,” he says. His life had never felt easy, even as a privileged, able-bodied suburban boy with two adoring parents, but he never felt entitled to any angst; he saw unhappiness as an illegitimate intrusion into the carefree reality he was supposed to inhabit. And don’t we all do that, he realized. Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? He wondered what would happen if you could “reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.” As a disabled person, he was getting all kinds of signals that he was different and separated from everyone else. But he worked hard to see himself as merely sitting somewhere on a continuum between the man on his deathbed and the woman who misplaced her car keys, to let his accident heighten his connectedness to others, instead of isolating him. This was the only way, he thought, to keep from hating his injuries and, by extension, himself.

Read the whole article.

Thoughts Into The New Year

Pondering the past
Pondering the past

That’s IT!
No more of this
Looking back through
2016’s murk.

Pundits say
gone, (not forgotten)
deceptions winning smiles
2016’s ‘antics’.

I say:
let go the dualities
For or Against
2016’s legacy?

That said:
A moment to remember
those who hurt,
hunger, suffer.
And cry out.

That said:
Listen, hear, act.
Together let us create
a flourishing year.
Along the Median Way.

And do our part to tackle sufferings cause.
At the very least that.

Top 10 RSPCA rescues in 2016 – They all Lived

We all love those heart warming animal rescue stories. I do anyway? Love the stories of gulls falling into vats of curry in South Wales this summer. Ending up bright orange and in need of a wash! We all would. Lots of stories to smile along with. The oversized Toad stuck in some decking in Norwich and the sheep with her head stuck in a trafic cone. One does wonder…..!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-38451931.

Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives