A story that I like goes something like this (and I cant remember if it is a tale or an autobiographic recollection: A Western fella was studying with monks in Tibet and one of the monks kept talking about this beautiful and strange flower that he found way up on one of the mountains that came back every spring and he had seen only once in his life. it was very small but vibrantly colored and hung tenaciously to the cliff growing out of the rocks like the lotus grows out of the mud, and on and on. This Western student, a bit worn by the monochrome landscape of Tibet, asked the monk to take him to see this beautiful and tough flower. So, they walked a day and half and climbed way up a cliff, slippin down now and again and finally came to a ledge and the monk was very excited as he pulled himself up exclaiming , “It is so beautiful!.” the Western student, sweaty and very tired pulled himself up the last foot onto the cliff and came face to face with a dandelion.
So, geography has always been very important to me- Moreso in a spiritual way than in an dinosaur and rock strata way.
When I think of my mind/body/and soul as a map; I know about some places, sure, other places, tucked away- I don’t. The ‘bad’ places that I have visited- as in emotions, thoughts, actions, etc are really not high on my list of places to revisit. But, I cannot and actualy am unwilling to deny their existence- I feel that sincere practice in any and all faiths be not just about ‘puppies and butterflies’. These uncomfortable places are useful, even helpful, to get to the other interesting or as yet explored areas of my self. I know them and I am confident when walking through these places (like the arduous journey of the Western student looking (craving?) for beauty in his ‘bleak’ suroundings.) so, in the places I know both- the pleasurable and the terrifying places- I am supported by my trust in my self and in buddhism (my faith). I am though, of the bent, to challenge myself constantly- I strive. i think that this will cause me to become learned and then possibly of some help to others- I seek a purpose. I feel I have passed beyond ‘seeking the cause.’ (“seeking the cause” is a great poem by Miguel Pinero performed by Benjamin Bratt in the movie ‘Pinero’!)
My purpose is not dramatic- I suck at drama- its not a skill I possess:) My purpose is tho live with confidence and make attempts at keeping my heart and mind honest, open, and willing. Each and every one of my sits has an outcome- positive, neutral, or even negative- sometimes i wish my mind would just give me a break! and those are the tough sits! But being alive and working on being awake means I cant always and only do what I ‘want’. Trusting others and the dharma through confusing twists and turns on my journey ( like an old coffee-stained map you find under your seat when you are uttlerly lost, low on gas, and close to getting pissed off)
Trusting help is nourishing to my ego and soothing to any of my feelers that may have been hurt.
Shakyamuni Buddha taught me that if I incorporate these sensations of incompleteness I will actually grow to have less to worry over. I still long or wish for ‘things’ and contentment and wisdom, on and on, etcetra and etcetera. but these cravings don’t become tangible- for very long anyway- and begin to guide me away from my path that i know is good for and to me. I want a better T.V. When i don’t actually watch that much T.V. but i just know that a better T.V. will make the Discovery channel more enjoyable! Leaning towards selflessness even to myself frees up more time in my day and space in my brain and room in my heart to actually appreciate what is around me naturally- what I already have and my quest doesn’t become so arduous or deflating like hiking for two days in Tibet just to look at a dandelion which, at home, I spray my lawn with Roundup to get rid of!. If where I am right now- in every ‘now’ is my vacation, then I never have that feeling that i can’t wait to get home so I can relax.