Sometimes 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.
I 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.
Once, 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.
In 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.
I digress.
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 less sense….