Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Illusions and Temptations
This has to be one of my very favorite scenes from the film Little Buddha. This clip depicts the eve of Siddhartha's enlightenment, and it teaches us how the path to enlightenment can be fraught with temptations both from the inside and outside of ourselves. And more importantly, how to conquer them.
I have found this to be true in my own spiritual journey, especially this last year, when things have arisen that remind me of the trials Buddha himself met and conquered during his journey. And when these troubling things arise, I remember this scene and am content.
For myself it's a bit different. Lovely Chippendale dancers don't appear during my morning practice, attempting to lure me away from my meditation with promises of love and peeled grapes (That's a Mae West reference, BTW). Nor has Mara's demons appeared, tossing flaming arrows at me, and no one has come to the house and demanded I stop meditating. (that would be actually quite funny, since I spent 15 years as a religious Rights advocate.) No, the challenges I have experienced in the past year, especially in the past few months are more subtle. Some of the obstacles come from without, some from within.
First, there were kindly monks who tried to lure me away from the path. I politely refused and continued my studies with Lama Jigme.
Second, there were attacks on my health, which I remedied by seeing the free clinic doctor and getting my asthma prescripts refilled.
Third, there were attempts to undermine my faith in my lama. I feel really sad about this because he bore the brunt of this. And of course I understand this isn't always about just me; others have been affected as well, due to interconnectivity. But more on that later.
and yesterday, another attempt occurred...this time to undermine my faith in the Three Jewels. I learned quickly from this encounter that disengaging yourself is the best defense.
So does this make me a great being? No. Does this mean I'm enlightened, oh my no, otherwise I wouldn't have gone four rounds with an egotist, which was of course, just a reflection of my own ego, so you can say I was just shadow boxing.
Besides, my daily bouts with sugar cravings are more than enough proof that I am still far from being so. (you have no idea how badly I'm craving a donut right now.)
So what does this mean?
Simply this. I found the best teacher for me and I am following his instructions. By doing so I'm progressing on the path.
And because I have met a teacher and followed his advice, my progress on the path is moving along nicely. And the challenges that come forth either from the spirit realm or from other humans is enhancing my progress instead of defeating it.
My perspective on a great many things is changing. For instance, sometimes I feel like I'm sitting on a high place looking down at my life, and all the lives before it, and I am neither saddened nor elated. It just is.
There is no fear. I've left that behind. But I do feel changes that cannot be articulated, just like late summer gives into autumn, then Indian Summer...yes, I could say I'm in the Indian Summer of my progression on the path...
But I still have a long, long way to go. The mind has its own seasons, and mine is preparing for the fall harvest.
And then my thoughts turn back Little Buddha,to Siddhartha sitting under the bodhi tree, and when he meets Mara face to face, says this:
"Oh lord of my own ego
you are pure illusion.
You do not exist.
the earth is my witness."
My faith is now irreversible.
Have a beautiful fulfilling day.
om mani padme hum
Peak flow: 300
breakfast: grapes and roast beef
Dinner: JW's choice