Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

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.

Keep Dancing

Heritage of Yoga

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:  2.5  Ignorance (avidya) is misperceiving permanence in transience, purity in impurity, pleasure (sukha) in suffering (dukkha), an essential self (atma) where there is no self.

What is the perfect pose, the perfect instruction, the perfect practice?  Where am I going with my yoga practice, what am I getting, who am I pleasing?  In my old age what will I have?   So easy to get lost, to forget the clarity of a moment, to fix an experience, become bored with routine.  Dukkha

A spiritual teacher of mine once told me that our happiest moments often hold the greatest suffering because we refuse to see their essential impermanence.  Avidya

It is wonderful to feel strong, be flexible, to have health and vitality, to move one’s body into extraordinary positions.  Sukha Yet the question arises like the song of Peggy Lee’s:

“Is that all there is, is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing”.

The song has notes of despair but it is also possible to hold that idea as a way of working till I live in the direct experience of enlightenment.  Where I don’t see permanence in transience, purity in impurity, pleasure in suffering, an essential self  where there is no self.  So if I am not to fall hopelessly into the mire this sutra speaks of, what does it mean in the context of yoga to keep dancing?  Could I hold dancing as the gradual path?

I experience the joy of a yoga pose.  I love the feeling of my heart center in Trikonasana, the stretch over my back hip and the reach of my top collar bone and arm.  I like how grounded I feel in Downward Dog, the texture of the mat under my hands and feet.  There is power in the Warrior poses and sweet surrender in Uttanasana.  I can do Handstands until my arms will no longer hold me.  Head back, chest open in Ustrasana or snug as a bug in Child’s pose.  I like to hear and feel my spine adjust in Jathara Parivartanasana and sit in the quiet of Gomukhasan legs.

There are lots of poses I don’t care for.  The ones where my body flounders and my mind finds little rest.  But some I have come to like as we have become better acquainted.  Is this dancing?

I like the moments of connection, when insight connects disparate experiences into a whole as vast as space.  For a moment there is direct perception.  An instruction I thought I understood gains a depth I hadn’t experienced before and I think, “Oh, that’s what they meant?”  Or something I read revels a profound insight.  These moments of clarity are fleeting.  Soon I fix them with my thoughts and they evaporate into a memory.  Is this dancing?

I am never tired of my yoga practice.  It does not bore me or seem of little value.  I am always learning something.  If not about my own practice directly then something new about my students which in the end informs my own study.  It is so wonderful to see another’s body and communicate in such a way that they share the perception.  For a moment our eyes join and the veils of separation lift.  I experience love in these moments and hold such gratitude for my students.  Is this dancing?

Patanjali speaks of the pitfalls, the subtleties of ignorance.  When I think I’m clever, or my practice is about accomplishment, when I think I am teaching and feel separate from my students, I am in the state of ignorance.  The shades of this ignorance are vast.  Occasionally I wake for a moment, but in general, I work within ranges of distorted perception.  But in the moments of lucidity when the veils lift I experience the freedom Patanjali speaks of.  I believe it is these moments which inform my experience, let me know what is possible, and keep me dancing.