I feel like being my "self", or acting according to my nature, is like
fighting a strong undertow threatening to drown me or leave me for dead, miles
out at sea. This isn't a new feeling, but one I've had ever since I can remember.
By being myself I mean acting according to what seems "right" or in
accordance with that which is larger than what I identify myself as being. I guess
it has seemed for a very long time that my nature is counter, or against, culture
at large. Its not that I don't fit exactly, for I've met others who feel the same
or similar for similar and different reasons. It just seems strange to me that
people like me have had to deal with these feelings over and over again.
begin to wonder what the point is. From an individual perspective "my"
point isn't so hard to understand. I guess its more what is the point of it all.
while I was living in Texas with my mom, while she was still with a man named
Noel, we went to visit Noel's parents. They lived in a town called Tyler, in East
Texas. Tyler, known as the rose capital of the world, (Texans like to think big),
was still pretty rural back then. His parents had about 11 acres, I believe. It
amounted to a small pasture with enough room for their horse and had a small creek
running along the edge. I had been reading a Buddhist book about Bodhicitta or
Loving Compassion written by a Tibetan. It was a translation and interpretation
of a much older treatise on compassion. The story about the originator of the
text was that he spent all day in meditation in his quarters and only came out
when necessary. The other monks, not having seen him do anything besides eat,
sleep, poop and return to his quarters, thought he was a joke. So one day they
decided to call him out on his seemingly slothfulness by asking him to talk about
Buddhist Compassion or Bodhicitta. Deciding to humor them he orated the treatise
then left the Sangha, or Spiritual community for the open countryside. The oral
exposition was so profound for the monks that several of them followed him begging
for him to repeat what he said, so they might transcribe it for future generations.
the beginning of the book it warns not to read the book unless one is serious
about spiritual development in one's life. It says exposure to ideas casually
might cause certain doorways to be opened before one is ready, leading one to
experience dissatisfaction or unhappiness about things in one's life that one
might not be ready to give up yet.
In one part of the book the Bodhisattva's
Vows are explained and listed. The main gist of the vows is the promise or dedication
of one's Self to the Enlightenment of All Sentient Beings. The idea is that one
will reincarnate lifetime after lifetime until everyone is enlightened even after
you yourself have become enlightened.
My whole life I've felt a strong identification
with Buddhism. I've always felt if I had to pick one religion to be above all
others I'd be a Buddhist. The problem for me with being "Buddhist" is
the dogma, not Dharma, dogma. Its not just a problem I have with Buddhism, but
every religion I've been exposed to. I figure it this way. If Buddha stayed with
the religion of his time he'd be Hindu or another religion of the time, same with
Christ, and Muhammad. I think if we are going to learn anything from their lives
its that the answers we seek are within, not found in the beliefs of others or
by following religious dogma.
One of the nights while staying
in Tyler, just after reading about the vows of a Bodhisattva, which I identified
with very deeply, I decided to go for a walk to creek. I walked to where a large
metal tube went underground to allow for crossing the creek. There were several
large rocks around the mouth of tube metal tube leading into the ground. I sat
down on one of them and spent a lot of time thinking about the enlightenment of
everyone. Up until I had read about that, (it is one of the things that helps
to define what is known as Mahayana Buddhism), I thought the most important goal
one could have in life (if one can have enlightenment as a goal) is enlightenment.
I started to pray. I prayed that I may return to this world over and over again
until I was enlightened and all sentient beings were also. It had a profound effect
on me that night all alone under the stars with the light gurgling sounds of the
water flowing through the rocks.
Since then there has been many ups and downs,
times when I wish it would all just end. I've asked myself how can I have enlightenment
as a goal. Its not a place to reach, not a thing to attain. Try as hard as I can
and still I can't even give it to myself. What is taking up the goal of sticking
around to "enlighten" all sentient beings? Is it just spiritual materialism
(ie. Something I hold on to , to make me Holy?) Do I even have a choice? For that
matter even though reincarnation makes sense, who knows? Either way, once I try
and see things from a larger perspective than my own, everything makes less and