Posts Tagged ‘impermanence’

Truth of Suffering

I read a book titled A General Theory of Love.  What I remember most was the authors saying that the perfect person could be right in front of one but because of our emotional wiring we would never see them.

I seem to have the perfect ability to pick a man who will never be really available.  My unerring prowess to find the flawed relationship might be harnessed for knowing don’t pick that one, don’t go that way.  Perhaps I could leverage this skill into a viable profession of what NOT TO DO.  I look at my history and see all the markers that when viewed at a distance are like the cones on a slalom race telling the skier where the course is, the boundaries to stay inside.  I’ve done a great job of keeping inside the lines of disappointment.  My path of choices is not worth mentioning as it only encourages me to self-pity which I would dearly like to wallow in right now.  You might have noticed how I am teetering on the edge of that bottomless pit.  Suffice it to say, despair and I are old friends.

The first Noble Truth is The Truth of Sufferingduhkha in Sanscrit.  To the uninvestigated view this seems to take a ‘Debbie Downer’ point of view.  In truth, it is the recognition of this that allows one to see that lasting happiness doesn’t lie in the transitory pleasures that are touted to be the answer.  Investigation further revels the all pervasiveness of this truth and leads to profound insight and the determination to walk the path to clarity and wisdom.

I’m not qualified to speak with authority on the Four Noble Truths (read Essence of Buddhism by Traleg Kyabgon for an accessible discussion) so I’ll leave that alone.  What I can say is how this truth has been validated in my experience.  I know it right now while I’m in the pain of unfulfilled love.  I also know it when I’m in the rapture of beauty.  I know it when I’m feeling the heartache of the human condition where we look, as my friend Art says, ‘for the consistent in inconsistency’.  I know it right now as my heart lightens from writing these words.

My love life may be a mess but I am always grateful for how it brings me again and again to the Truth of Suffering.  Perhaps my unerring ability is really to find the dharma in my life, my skill to lose the path in false refuge and then again find my way back to what is true.  My teacher reminds me that impermanence is on my side.  I’m hurting now but this will not last, I was in the bliss of love and that didn’t last.  Impermanence and the Truth of Suffering is what we get.


No Cheese or the Unsatisfactory Nature of Cyclic Existence

There is a story of rats and humans. Put a piece of cheese down a tunnel and the rat will go back to the same tunnel looking for the cheese even when it’s never there again. The difference between rats and humans is that the rat will eventually give up but the human never does.

I see myself looking for the cheese in the same circumstances over and over again.

I’m feeling my deep sadness, rage. I wonder how we treat each other in such hurtful ways and skew our vision to make it jibe with our values. I can see how needs are trying to be met but at what cost? Friendships lost, marriages ruined – lies and secrets, hidden agendas.

Us humans, so confused. I’m confused. My highest aspiration is to work for the benefit of others. To only wish them good fortune, to hold their actions with compassion and have empathy for their suffering. Can I offer this to myself?

I want to be the victim in this situation. I don’t believe in victim. Confusion is boundless, where is emptiness of phenomena? I don’t experience this. My hurt feels so close. Betrayal evokes rage. I want to strike out and hurt back those who I feel have wounded me. What is it that I trust in another? Is it shared values that drive a code of conduct I expect? Why would I want to continue in a relationship that offers so little?

Look again.  Are my needs for love being met? My need to be valued by the companion I’m with. I want my gifts to be cherished. Endless cycles of suffering looking for constancy in impermanence.  I am standing on quick sand and wondering why the ground will not support me.  Almost laughable if I could see the uselessness of my actions.  There is no cheese here and never will be.

Old writing when my marriage was in tatters.

So now there is a new love after so long.  My hunger for giving and receiving, to feel the loving touch of another, to languish in the lushness of the open heart.  How sweet this is.  This moment will not believe in change.  Determined that the open heart will not contract from fear of loss, worry of inadequacy, or the unmet needs of wanting to be seen and heard by the beloved. Confidence that brooks no doubt.  Yet woven in this conviction are the whispers – not this time, this time my eyes are open. Perhaps.

Confusion blinds.  What I imagined could not fall victim to past patterns lies exposed in the under belly of my habits.  My belief that this time my wish to be transparent will protect me.  I can catch my demons before they take hold and I am falling into the black hole of my psyche.  Yet here I am again, so full of love and terrified of losing it. Terrified that I chose one who will never meet me.  Terrified that I will sabotage what could be possible.  Terrified that I will run, slamming all the doors behind me to avoid the hurt of loss.

Again I am looking for the cheese in the tunnel where I have made sure there will be none.  I am looking for the feeling of love to be constant.  Refusing to see that love like all phenomena is slippery, shape-shifting, moving in and out of the shadows.  New love is so blind.  It believes in itself and thinks it is immune to the insidious habits that lie in wait – exempt from the truth of suffering.

A human caught in the maze of cyclic existence.

The Spring Garden

When sunny days come to my NW garden, I understand why the lizard crawls onto the rock to warm his blood.  Like him, the sun beckons to me and I find myself standing in my yard with my head turned towards the sun’s warmth.  There is something in spring which calls me and I cannot help but respond to the silent message.  Come, come, comeLike the sap rising in the under layers of the tree which must of its very nature make this journey, I too, must come to this moment.

Each year I marvel at the burst of green that seems to emerge overnight from winters brown.  Within days my yard is filled with every shade of green and the first flowers announce the lengthening light.  After the hellebore brings forth their nodding heads of many hues, the Ribes sanguineum, flowering current, bursts into bloom to let the bees and hummingbirds know spring has arrived.  There is blue of grape hyacinth and blue bells; tulips in yellows, pinks, purples and white; the Euonymus fortunei ‘golden prince’ puts forth long arms of green stems with bright yellow on every leaf.

Euonymus ‘Golden Prince’

The fat buds of clematis peel open their petals and announce the expanding light, while the fragrance of daphne stops me in my tracks and demands a moments pause.  Shy nodding heads of columbine ask me to look down and the big blooms of rhododendron take my eyes skyward.

Each day something new.  When I hear someone say, “Oh I saw the garden before” I cringe.  This isn’t the garden of last year or even yesterday.  It changes moment to moment.  Each day in my travels in the yard I pick every dandelion bloom and flower I can find.  But before I stumble back to the house exhausted from my labors, three more have emerged teasing me with their wispy heads.  This is the garden of the moment, of change and impermanence.  This garden asks me to be awake, be present to the wonder of the moment because it will not last.  (Picasa photo album)

I have come to warm in the sun but the spring sun is unpredictable.  It shines and I rush to get outside only to find the clouds have closed in and the wind is cold.  Perhaps it will rain and I will stand under the big Doug Firs to stay dry or wait it out in the greenhouse.

Flowering current in early spring

I dress in layers of gardening clothes that can be piled on or removed in a moment.  They are often fairly dirty from kneeling in wet grass or soil, carrying compost and digging.  I am not the spring maiden on the garden catalog in her flowing dress, with quaint hat and woven basket.  I look more like the bag lady that lives under the bridge.  Spring weather is quixotic and it is more than once I have come back the next day to find a discarded layer now soaked by the rain.

The lizard knows the sun from cellular memory passed down through DNA.  Maybe this is how I also know the sun.  But I carry the memory of the spring warmth in my heart and warm myself through the gray days that will stretch out over the next several months.  I recall a year when the sun barely emerged until almost the end of July.  That was a test.  Yet the moment the sun shone for good, all the gray was forgotten.  Is this our human nature saying be here now?

Variegated weigela in bloom with rhododendron budding out

The garden holds many secrets.  Some secrets are caught by the astute eye which notices the subtle changes moment to moment, but others sweep in bigger movements and come to light only through the years.  Twenty years in this garden have shown me the cycles of life and the preciousness of the moment.  The garden has taught me to have patience as the small tree will grow and I will marvel years later that I planted it at all.  I have learned to let go of regrets when a favorite plant stays only for a season or a few years and then is gone.  I love the gardeners wisdom that tell us newbies that this year our plant will sleep, next year it will creep, and then it will leap.  I know too that the freshness of spring will wane and the chore of watering will at times overshadow the joy I feel now.  The garden is a task mistress.  So I enjoy the spring garden in many ways and remind myself that the sun that is so precious now will in months to come be too much and I will long once again for the rain.