Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening!

Have you gotten a speeding ticket when you were not speeding?  Highwaymen steal from travelers… there’s a long history of such activity.  Have you ever been falsely accused of something?  I have, and those are soul triggers.  Anyway, these themes appear in this post.

I was robbed, as I see it, yesterday, being pulled over by a highway robber in the guise of a police officer.  I want to share my thoughts about the experience here just in case it may soothe the wound of someone else out there who is reeling after an episode similar to my own.  So here goes . . .

Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening! I awoke this morning and very first thought was that even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India retracing the Buddha’s footsteps on a spiritual pilgrimage was robbed by highwaymen. More than once if I recall from reading his book. My pilgrimage is only to the gym and I too am a spiritual seeker. I don’t care! I’m going with the comparison. It works for me.

Highway Robbery… that’s what happened to me yesterday. I didn’t sleep all night with flashbacks of the red and blue lights swirling behind my car. I reviewed the whole thing willing to admit to myself if I could have been mistaken. No. All night long. No, no mistake, I was not speeding.

The cop was a good actor. I assume a highway robber has to have some type of convincing skill in that way. Maybe they coach them on the approach to use. Right off he said, “Didn’t you see how many cars you went past?!” I thought he stopped me to say a tail light was out.

How many cars did I pass? there were 2 lanes and I was in mine and didn’t whip around anyone…just was minding my own business driving straight on. Again, there were two lanes. I was in my lane. I have no memory of passing 4 cars who were driving in the other lane next to mine.

And there was no traffic … its a lightly traveled road which is why I usually drive that way. I take back roads whenever I can.

His next line was about a radar clock and how fast he had to drive to catch up to me. What??? I drove that road every time I go to the gym and was not driving fast, was not in a hurry. I was not upset, had nothing in particular in mind but maybe my grocery list. Planned on stopping on the way home.  Anyway.  Nada. My conclusion. Highway Robbery!

Again, even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India while retracing the Buddha’s footsteps through India was robbed.

For me, it was $200 that I had to put on a charge card of which I was robbed. For Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto it was his begging bowl and some precious survival items.

He had to let go and not argue about what happened. That’s why I’m not a monk or nun material. I argued. Well, I mostly disagreed and kept saying so. Either way. I’m letting go but it’s not been immediate.  Maybe blogging it all out will help me but others who will need to move this kind of business.

Strange how it happens, you know.  The moment you up-your-game, there comes a challenge right off to give you the test.  Suppose you vow to live healthier and the next thing you know, you get sick.  Practice for getting healthier.  Vow to be more peaceful and there comes a highway robber to give you practice for that too.  Anyway . . .

Highway Robbery! I am not my money nor am I my driving skills.  Here’s another consolation:  Buddha said in The Discourse on the Not-self . . . ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’  That’s a good mantra if you are up to speed on the Non-self teachings.

I have listened to many of Ajahn Succito’s audio teachings and have read both of his books about his pilgrimage through India. Today I will pop in one of the CD of his dharma talks while working on watercolor painting and connect back with his energy to heal further from this experience.

Just as a footnote, it’s not so much the money (but yeah, losing $200 right now does hurt) but it is more-so being accused of something that I feel certain that I wasn’t doing and then to avoid a hassle of going to court (which is what they count on most people doing!), admitting guilt (had to check that box online) confessing to something that I didn’t do in order to pay the ticket.  Highway Robbery. This being accused of things that I haven’t done is an old soul wound that life circumstances trigger. How it goes has to do with when one is working more consciously and conscientiously on the spiritual path, it brings up those old grudges and defilements–impairments to peace.

Ajahn Succito released his possessions to the thieves without anger or resentment with an attitude of maybe they needed those things more than he himself did.

I am trying to consider my own experience of highway robbery with an attitude of giving a generous gift to the city’s police department — maybe they all need a raise or have higher operating expenses.  Not that I don’t!  but still, there it is— a better attitude for me to embrace such as given by the example of Ajahn Succito.

I think that it can be seen as a self-measure of where one is on the path based on how one handles those experiences and deals with the uprising kleshas. Kleshas, in Buddhist thought, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.  I had some anger going on mostly stemming from pride — in that, I do believe myself to be a safe and careful driver and obedient to the laws of the land.  Right, so that’s that. The robbers got their money and I got my measure of active kleshas are the strong conflicting emotions that spin-off and heighten when we get caught by aversion and attraction.  In my case yesterday, aversion!  And maybe too much pride in my perceived driving skills — active defilement.

Should I thank the highwayman for the rude awakening he gave me by helping me see in what state my spiritual progress *(or lack of) exists? Should I wonder about his karma?

Not really there yet.  Maybe that gratitude will take a few more days.  Meanwhile, I’d love a $200+ refund; but not holding my breath for that one.

Driveby Painted Rock – Sign of Progress

Maybe this is a vent in disguise but I’d like to think it’s more of a hopeful sign.  Just wanted to put it out there in the cyber world.  Should have snapped a photo.  Didn’t so you’ll just have to believe me.  Here’s the deal. I’m down off the mountain now living at the foot of the foothills.  However, my residence was in the Appalachian Mountains for many a year, near 20 give or take.  Point is the contrast.  I wanted to write something about the whole Jesus thing.  Around here there are these huge boulders placed in front of schools and there are messages painted on them that change from time to time.  Once when my granddaughter was in elementary school, her mom and dad rented the rock to paint a big happy birthday message to her.   It’s a ‘thing’ around here.

So the thing is that in driving by the other day,  caught sight of a huge rock in front of our local high school which read HAPPY HOLIDAYS and beneath it were various symbols of various religions.  I felt encouraged by that.

Christians, it seems to me, way too often assume everybody else is or should be just as they are and we get the Jesus thing shoved in our Jewish, Buddhist., Hindu, Druid, Taoist, Islam, Shinto, Wicca … you get the idea… faces!

What about the contrast, the point of this blog post, that was mentioned above?

Well, when living in Appalachia, in my desire to tend App State University, the local college, in reviewing my transcripts,  indicated I needed a few more electives.  Turns out I didn’t but that’s another story.   Point is that when walking into a classroom there was written on the board in huge letters, JESUS LOVES YOU.  Not only that but one day one of the local Baptist ministers was standing outside the main building trying to give away Bibles.

Here’s another example.  In the small mountain community, there was — and then there wasn’t — a yoga studio.  I inquired about it and was told that the landlord would not rent to the yoga people because his minister said not to do so since yoga relates to the devil.  True story.  I know it sounds unbelievable, but I wouldn’t lie!

Anyway… what a distinct difference between those examples of religion in the Appalachians and the painted rock outside of the High School yesterday!  An acknowledgment that the acceptance of differences in humanities theology is alive and well (at least down here in the foothills!)

Amen.  and PS – if I get by that rock again before it’s painted over into a different message, I’ll grab a photo with my cell and post it here.

Awakening, Karma, Virtue, Cats and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and his cat
The Dalai Lama and his cat

I recently listened to the Dalai Lama (through his translator) say something on a karma related subject. He said that even a simple act of virtue like feeding an animal (even ants) when it is done with an altruistic attitude (intention of helpfulness and compassion) with the idea of benefiting those sentient beings that this is what is meant by the term “bodhicitta”.  The word translates from Sanskrit this way:  bodhi means enlightened or awakened and citta means mind or consciousness.  So we could say that bodhicitta means awakened mind and it is the compassionate act of a bodhisattva practitioner.  To take it further, A person who has a spontaneous realization or motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva.

I would not go so far as to refer to myself as a bodhisattva but the Dalai Lama says even a simple act of conduct or action done in virtue with the intention of helpfulness and compassion are transformed into conditions of full enlightenment.  I think of conditions being transformed in such a way that awakening, at least in moments, is favorable.  So even simple acts of loving intention, he said, are like an elixir that transforms base metals into gold.

Only a true Buddhist would consider feeding ants.  That has never occurred to me to do, but maybe will since the great teacher Dalai Lama mentioned it.  However, I do feed stray cats.  There is one little Buddha-Cat who honestly cracks my heart open every time he comes with the others to eat.  He had a lot of fear right after he was born–really significantly frightened more than his brother or sisters.  Now, he is warming up to me and the other neighbor here who feeds him.  Here’s the thing.  The others dive into the food platter — a clear plastic party platter works well for them, each having their own compartment.  However, while he may be positioned to eat, he doesn’t start until he looks up into your eyes and reaches his head up so as to rub noses with you.

Each time I feed this cat, my heart opens more and he makes it easy for me to create the mindstate of a Bodhisattva.  I accept any conditions that would lead me to full awakening.  This sweet cat is helping me; may he remain protected and happy.

PS it is said that His Holiness rescued his cat from the slums of Dharmsala.