Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Are Artists Of Our Own Lives

I woke up this morning with a line in my head that goes, "Sometimes I have breakfast with Mara and I use a long spoon."  I love this line.  It conjures this fabulous picture in my mind of a large bowl and the diner with an extremely long handled spoon gingerly dipping it, while suspiciously eyeing  Mara (the emanation of darkness and temptress of the passions who tested Buddha on the night of his enlightenment) from across the bowl.  The quote belongs to RM Jiyu Kennett, founder of the Soto Zen Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.

What I understand of this quote is that sometimes old karma arises and we have senses or feelings that come to us that leave us scratching our head.  What's that all about, where did that come from. .... especially  if you wake up with some unexplainable feelings that linger, as in the breakfast with Mara scenario.  The practice is of course not to indulge these feelings, nor suppress them. ... easier said than done, but that is the razor's edge we aim for.

One of the interesting things I have heard about karma is that once you stop creating new karma, (by our unskillful actions) old karma can then come up to be cleansed.  As The Humble Yogini mentioned yesterday in a comment on my post,  "Cracked Pots, Mustard Seeds And Suffering", that is one of our functions here on this earthly realm, to cleanse karma.  If you find that a bit far fetched you can always do what my teacher suggests, and put it on the back burner for now.

This morning Mara visited me more as a physical sensation, a slightly churning stomach.  And as I resisted the urge to go with the old "I'm sick" story I could feel the turning.  I could feel strangely cheerful and yet not completely physically well.  I could see the fruits of my training, as it is sometimes called.  I have been a glass half empty kinda gal for most of my life.  My understanding is that's partly karmic package and partly the inclination for all human beings according to brain researcher, Rick Hanson of  But this morning I could see the turning, a feeling that I don't have to do things this way any more.  I can choose to look up instead of down.  It was a blood and bones sensing, not just an understanding it in my head kind of thing.  

And then in this optimistic (egads, Batman!) kind of way I could see some of the other fruits of my training laid out before me like a little tropical feast: my improved relationship with my mother, my partner and daughter, from a willingness to do the necessary work.  A lot of contemplation and courage to say the hard thing  (always in the most helpful way possible and not coming from anger) went into this.  I could see how working with anger (I talk about this in my post "the doorway in") has changed how I relate to the world in general.  And the practice of letting go has helped me see how much of what we cling to is, in the grand scheme, not particularly important.  And the work is on going; as someone once pointed out that's why they call it practice.  We are continually working away on it, refining our lives, like cooks, like alchemists, like artists of our own lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment