The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Monday, March 23, 2009

If we believe that every time we are unhappy, we must not be doing spiritual practice right, ego has us in its grip.

--Cheri Huber

Many people who know that I am a Buddhist Priest seem to think that, because of my practice, I should always be happy.  What's more, some people believe that I do not suffer, that I should somehow be beyond all that stuff.  Doesn't being a Buddhist Priest imply enlightenment?  Yes, sometimes, in some ways.  Haven't I reached some state of bliss?  Yes, sometimes, in some ways.  And if I haven't gotten there, what does that mean for the rest of us?!?
Well Friends, it doesn't quite work that way for me.  As Cheri Huber points out, Ego has a way of creating duality that measures, probes, weighs, compares and draws conclusions.  And it will always try to shout a little louder than the True Self a these times. 
Coming from a perfectionist model, an either/or model, this is how we view our "progress"--forgetting the PROCESS.  
A spiritual life exists far beyond our definitions of what "should" be.  In fact, a spiritual life works far beyond definitions, period.  When we begin to define, we begin to limit.  When we seek continuous happiness, we live in the grip of Annicca, impermanence.  When we set up the duality of right and wrong, we are ignoring reality just as it is, interconnected and empty of independent form.  When we try to avert suffering and cling to happiness, we are living in the realm of greed, which creates a continuous downward spiral of suffering.
What we can do as practicing Buddhists is remain mindful of our 5 Skandhas and their part in creating the Ego Self.  
We can practice the Brahmavihara, the 4 Abidings of loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity, allowing these practices to open us to everything as it is.
All I can do as a Priest is practice from these places, as well as from the Bodhisattva Vow, and that means resting in the Ground of my Being, "even in the midst of suffering."*

*from The Blue Mountain Lotus Society Book of Meditation

feeling okay
not feeling okay
walking the dog, hearing the birds

--Osho Ginny Parkum

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