The Undying One
Enclosed with this
Wrinkling Skin Bag
Think to abandon?
This is for a monk who is approaching a juncture in monastic training. And if the words seem slightly familiar I’ve taken the last few lines of a well known poem and reworked them. Song of the Grass-Roof Hut. Considerably!
There will be a lot of gathering together today, all around the world. People, women and men, actively objecting and actively voicing and above all being active. When remaining passive might be an option.
Sticking to what one believes is right and true, in the face of abuse and ridicule, is not a one off kind of action. This story of a man in WW2, a Conscientious Objector (to not shedding blood/killing) is an example of persistently sticking to what he held in his heart as right and true. Quite something actually.
He persisted to save lives in the face of losing his own. But what marks him out is that he was praying all the way, while he worked to save lives.
The message here is obvious. But I’ll say it anyway.
Hate is not conquered by hate,
Hate is conquered by love.
This is an eternal law.
There is however a fierce love (marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions).
‘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.
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.
When all around is falling trees
to freeze to the spot?
RUN! HIDE! STOP STILL!
there is that
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.