Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kamma Rising

I have a picture in my mind of a mixture of kammic ingredients that are sort of, well ... simmering. This concoction is what makes me "me". It remains unfinished and ever changing. I can choose what to add - or not add - to the mix, but what's already there is beyond my control and will remain until it dissipates on it's own. I have no idea what may be ready to rise to the surface, for better or worse.

I was drawn to Buddhism because I have been drawn to it at sometime in the past, maybe numerous times. I am keenly aware of how fortunate it is that I have the opportunity to continue. That it took around 45 years to recognize this path and to remember that it is where I belong is quite telling, I think. No, I'm not remembering past lives! But there is a deep sense of familiarity and safety. Much like the feeling one has when finally returning home after a long and difficult journey, or finding ones way after being lost. That I was born in a "non-Buddhist" family and country speaks volumes to me of the power of kamma, past and present. Something was obscuring my view during all those years. Hopefully things will continue to clear and there will be sufficient wholesome kamma to allow me to continue.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Play Ball!

There is a saying in baseball that you can't hit what you can't see. Fastballs that is. Catching them is a bit easier if you're really paying attention, but ask any good catcher and they'll admit that it can be difficult...and painful.

If you imagine a monkey hurling fastballs for all he's worth, you'll have a pretty clear picture of what meditation has been like for me lately. This was the image that popped up as I sat there yesterday morning growing more and more frustrated and distracted. Obviously there were some lingering fragments from watching a playoff game on TV recently that helped fill in the blanks. At any rate, this began to come into focus and things started to shift. Other than the fact that I sometimes have a bizarre imagination, what does this mean?

Well, I know this little guy! I've willingly, even eagerly played his game for a long, long time. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I taught him the game in the first place. And he likes it! He's good at it! He's in a groove, as they say! And apparently he's not at all happy that I don't want to play anymore. So the more I tried to reject him and ignore him, the harder and faster he threw. Ouch! I turned my back and got nailed! But, when I turned around and stopped trying to deny that he was there, the barrage ended. Ok, he didn't just pack up and leave, and he's got a lot of stuff left. But he seems content, for the time being anyway, to lob one my way once in a while instead of trying to take my head off with it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Testing Ground

This life, and the world in which it is being lived, is like a testing ground. I just keep crashing in to things - other people, myself, situations, feelings, impulses. But, unlike that guy over there, I have choices. Results are obtained from the tests he is involved in. The idea is to learn from those results and do the work needed to improve things a bit. So why do I have such a hard time figuring out that much of what I keep doing keeps me in this endless cycle of suffering?

When I look back at my life to this point, it's rather mind boggling to see how many times I've just charged full speed ahead into the same walls...over and over and over again, surprised each and every time that the result is always the same. Talk about a dummy! It's as if at birth some kind of auto pilot switch was activated and I can't seem to override it.

The Buddha offered us a way out of suffering, and he basically said, "Don't just take my word for it, test this out yourself and see if it works for you". So why is there any hesitation at all in getting on with the test? What could be more important than the end of suffering? If my house was on fire would I wait until my favorite TV show was over before getting out and calling for help? If I was having a heart attack or began hemorrhaging would I decide to finish reading an interesting article or even listening to a Dhamma talk before calling 911? No, of course not. Those threats would be obvious, no analysis necessary, mindfulness not even required. Then how is it that I keep getting drawn in by those familiar walls that I keep slamming in to? I'm afraid I continue to spend a lot of time just going through the motions - reacting to the world around me without proper analysis of where the reactions are coming from as they begin. Lately I have been learning to put it together, and just that much is an improvement. But there is still a delay in recognition. So often I find myself poking through the wreckage to identify the cause instead of seeing it coming and preventing it in the first place.

And so the testing continues.