Dealing with Neighbor Karma – Mindrolling Rinpoche Helps with Loud Indian Neighbors

 WARNING: this is a vent; read at your own risk.  Awakening at 3:30 AM

So anyway. Okay. That’s probably IT. Neighbor karma! And they say if you don’t fight against the karmic consequences; that is if you accept without resistance, this releases the karma.

Are they butchering their own meat for dinner with a chain saw? Or grinding up ice cubes in a blender to make frozen margaritas to get drunk on? Or shoving what they can shove down the electric garbage disposal? You have to love the way they yell right over the top of the noise—even when the grinding sound isn’t happening and they are within two feet of one another—yelling at the top of their lungs! What’s that about, huh? Say, What!?!!?? If you are Indian (from the country of India – not to be confused with Native Americans), please ask yourself why you scream at the top of your lungs when it isn’t necessary?

Mindrolling Monastery in Dehra Dun North India
Mindrolling Monastery in Dehra Dun North India

Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? This ain’t no monastery and (that’s not all!). Besides that…

I can’t get no… I can’t get no…. I can’t get no… SATISFACTION! (Rolling Stones)

Remember back in the mountains when the new neighbor massacred an acre of perfectly healthy and happy trees displacing numerous trees and deer and birds, et al –? (I’m talking to long time followers of my blog.) There was a disturbance in the force – a horrid ripping up of the pre-peaceful energy field – it felt terrible. Awoke to that same feeling at 3:19 AM! Voices shouting—a woman’s voice! NO, don’t tell me they’re at each other again downstairs.

Lovely! The young people in the next building were on their patio whooping, hooting and hollering to the silence of the night. Humans around here are just blowing off steam, releasing their stresses is the guess. Why oh why does this particular kingdom of beings (human kingdom) who have the most advanced brain potential on the planet act like dogs? No, dogs are much more intelligent; they bark for a reason; at least most of the time. Unfortunately, this same level of intelligence is not able to be attributed (at least by me) to the downstairs Indian neighbors and the young “drunk-at-3:30 AM-hooting-into-the-trees-neighbors”  who live in the next building a mere 30 feet from the one we’re in. Watch out!  There’s competition for  the human idiot of the weekend prize around here—the Indian couple below me now has competition.

Come to think of it, I’ve always had neighbor issues (karma?) even back into my late teenage years. The man in the house next door used to stand on is porch (only feet from bedroom window) and call his little black dog named “sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooH-TEEeeeeeeee”, correctly spelled “sooty” until I wanted to pull my hair out! Then years later there was the neighbor who would send her son to my house to play soon as she got home from work so she could entertain her latest boyfriend. And then we had the old couple who… well, never mind. Yeah, neighbor karma.

Maybe they (downstairs Indian couple)  got some message yesterday—who knows? Loud Indian People, I’ll say it again–Loud Indian People!   Well, let’s start with Friday night; they always come back from Monsters, Inc. (Lowe’s Headquarters) on Friday nights really geeked up and louder than any of the other days of the week. I was into my writing when they blasted in downstairs, their voices escalating as the night wore on. I tried to be tolerant—obviously another bad day or week for them and they’re fighting about it again. I put my headset on and piped into my ears via my headset the meditation and relaxation music that I’d spent hours ripping off CD’s last week. I was prepared!

Go ahead freakazoid Indian peeps! I’m prepared. Can you believe that over certain music –which I had playing full blast as loud as it the volume will go—that I could still hear them at certain times?

I was writing the lesson on astrological elements and modalities—earth, air, water, fire and cardinal, fixed and mutable signs. The lesson I was writing was a bit complicated to explain so to keep my focus, keep myself sane and to keep my sense of humor, when they’d yell out below me, I’d yell back that the male part of the couple has won the biggest mouth of the week award and I congratulated him duly and properly in my own language to match their voice volume (loud) while they barely took a breath, not listening to a word! Not that they could hear a thing over their non-stop vocal drama. She would wail out in a long vocal diatribe on occasion and at the same volume, I’d hoot and holler back in response that unfortunately, try as she might, she wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as her male counterpart although at times it was rather close. Then I’d wish her better luck for next week and go back to my typing certain they did not hear a word over their own vocalizations. Did you ever hear pig calling? No. Really. It’s a sport in certain parts of the American’s—they have pig calling contests. I really think this Indian couple should enter; they’d win@! — hey, don’t judge me; this blog and that are my ways of DEALING. 

I can’t imagine what the heck they’re grinding down there but from the shouting, it’s getting pretty exciting for them right now.

Mindrolling Jetsun Rinposhe
Mindrolling Jetsun Rinposhe

Yesterday morning I played an hour of Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche for their listening pleasure (and mine). She may have (who can know for sure?) out talked them putting them into a more quiet trance for the rest of the day. Who knows really since I made it a point to be out most of the day with the family—it was my grandson’s birthday. But before I left, their voices were subdued. Thank you Rinpoche!

There’s the Mindrolling Monastery in India. Do theses Monkey Mumbai’s (as I lovingly call them) know about it I wonder? It’s located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Dehra Dun in North India. Well, if they can calm down downstairs, I’d like to contemplate further the Yanas! The first step to this is to accept my neighbor karma with love, compassion, toleration and did I say acceptance, yeah, several times now.

May I accept what I cannot change! I am no longer in the peaceful serene mountains. I am not in living in a monastery. I am in the middle of slumdogs, making the best of it, accepting my karma, learning toleration, but to love this is a bit of a stretch; I’m tolerating until I get to go home. Let there be peace on Earth (the kind that doesn’t come from alcoholic overdose or scream fighting with others until exhausted – the real kind).

Well, the grinding stopped downstairs, so maybe I can get some work done now. Yeah, it’s Sunday but parts of me don’t know that—an old throwback habit from my peaceful, serene days in the mountains. Many times I did not know what day or time it was.

Oh, to finish on a positive note—the celebration of my grandson’s birthday was such a contrast! We had a lovely dinner together at Olive Garden Restaurant (his choice) and came back to a little party at home wherein we played a few rounds of Catch Phrase, and then his mother read to him a list of memories about him that we all submitted to her beforehand at her request. His task was to guess whose memory it was. Then we each read 15 things we love about him (since it was his 15th birthday, 15 attributes or virtues, etc.). Again we had these prepared ahead of time to read. It was very beautiful actually.

His aunts gave him a savings account in their name that they opened for him and a booklet of the account and deposit slips – the account being for saving for his first car. We supported this with our own monetary gifts and he received a few video games and his mother’s big gift to encourage his music and this he was so thrilled with it—a violin! We all then enjoyed a totally awesome ice cream cake which was especially good since we’ve all been dieting. A warm, beautiful family evening!

Later I came home to bathe, sleep and be awakened at 3:30 AM to the party of drunks hooting at the trees on the balcony next door. Such is life, the acceptance of my neighbor karma, and now we’ve come full circle.

Judging from the voices below, I feel another teaching from Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche in my immediate future!

PS—why do people SLAM cupboard doors? Answer?: because they can (I suppose?) Accepting my neighbor karma—trying to send love; help me Buddha!

….and as I end this diatribe they are screaming at each other below me. Meditate? Ha! Perhaps a charnel ground meditation for me today? Chad– Perhaps and if  I must.

Working the graveyard shift of your mind and advice from a spiritual teacher on triggers

ARCHANGEL MICHAELI heard a spiritual teacher once say something very encouraging– in reference to the Native American story that you’ve likely already heard – about the white wolf and the dark wolf inside of us.  Here is the story for quick review if you’ve never heard it:

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 The encouragement from the spiritual teacher is that –well, first of all my own observation.  I see the dark wolf in myself and of course in others; but seeing it in my self is the most painful and disheartening.  It is dispiriting to see others feeding the dark wolf also; and it is for these who have no knowledge of their actions whatsoever that can evoke greatest compassion.  And I say this without a grain of self-righteousness being intended.

I recognize in my past the states of being totally asleep as to which wolf was being fed (to continue with the Native American teaching example)—not to mention knowing that there were two wolves in the first place!  Ignorance is bliss only temporarily for eventually awakening (whether in this lifetime or the next) awakening is bound to eventually occur.

And when that awakening does begin to happen one can be filled with great regret—we see unflattering and embarrassing things about ourselves then and that usually happens at 2 am or throughout half the night!  It all bubbles up and there are, at least in my own experience, cycles or layers of time between these realizations about how the dark wolf was fed—sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly.  The light shines upon our awareness and what we were not conscious of or about (because we were busy feeding the wrong wolf) suddenly comes squarely before us.  We don’t want to look because it is painful.

And sometimes this is where people turn to anything to rid themselves of the pain of sorrow or regret over their mistakes.  Who knows how long this process takes—lifetimes maybe, who knows?  But when we get to the point where we have to acknowledge the two truths, the two wolves, that is when we become awakened or fully conscious of ego and how it operates.

However, even when we ‘are’ conscious and aware of feeding the wrong wolf, there is a period in which we cannot seem to stop ourselves—due to habit (brain patterns/proclivities), prior soul wounds, due to the wiring of our psyche for whatever reason, even when we are conscious that we are doing it and we know we are feeding the wrong wolf we do it anyway!

Now what?  I see this in my self.  I am conscious that the wound has taken over (again) and aware that I am reacting in the old patterned ways which, after all, are only for the purpose of wanting to avoid pain and I see myself doing it anyway!  This is called, in some circles, responding in a patterned way to the trigger!

But now the difference is that we are aware we are doing it and that awareness is 99.999% of the battle that the spiritual warrior fights.  The encouraging news from the spiritual teacher is that success is guaranteed once awareness occurs.  And if you think about it, that makes sense.  Once you know—you know and can no longer ‘not know’.  Once you are conscious, you are conscious and can no longer ‘not be conscious’.  Oh yeah, we can try and that’s called denial but in the end we become conscious of that too—it just causes more pain.

Again, what do we do?  One thing is that this can bring us into great feelings of compassion for ourselves and for others and the general human condition.  We can see in others the struggle they are suffering through because we are currently or have been in that same struggle.  For those who have no level of consciousness about feeding any wolf at all (totally asleep)—and these are often (but not always) the folks that seem to trigger us in the first place—we can have great compassion for them but first we must create that compassion for our own self.  (Both at the same time really in many cases I think.)

What I do is go quiet when triggered and since I’ve moved closer to family and since financial demands have been greater all with impositions on time and energy (well, who amongst us does NOT have concerns like these?)—however, the point being that I’ve been triggered every which way but loose and old ghosts of the past are knocking at the door asking to be fed again!  Each one wanting, no demanding, something different—in moments it becomes overwhelming.  And I’ve had to watch myself dealing with the two wolves—some days more successfully than others; yet always aware.

And again that’s the good news—once we are aware we are guaranteed success but then the success becomes challenged again over and over.  More good news is that we can relax about that too once we know it is simply life and impermanent and always changing!  Like my mother’s wisdom goes:  Hang in there, it won’t last.  I add, hang in there and remain aware, conscious.  Don’t let the dark wolf take over completely by going into denial because eventually that, too, will need to be brought to the light of consciousness and again usually at 2 or 3 in the morning!

So often I think of the people of Tibet and the Dalai Lama and that suffering and the example of the refusal to feed the dark wolf that His Holiness has demonstrated and how much discipline, courage and compassion this required of him individually.  Yesterday was human rights day 2012 and still Tibet is not free; it is heartbreaking if we let our mind take us there… and to be more like the Dalai Lama in the face of that the Chinese takeover that his country suffered… well, he continues to be the example for me.  The Buddhists train themselves purposefully to handle intense fear and to handle death by contemplating both.  I sometimes think of the charnel training that some developing monks are sent by their teachers to do.

I’ve read about this numerous times and heard it referred to in documentaries and so my sensitivity to this is not as strong as it is would be if I were hearing about this the first time.  So this may be a bit shocking to the reader who does not know of this.  That high in the Himalayas the ground is often too frozen to have an actual ground burial when someone dies and burning bodies is not practical because of the situation with trees.  Therefore, the way that the bodies are dealt with after death involve feeding them to the vulcher birds and wild animals after the charnel ground workers chop up the bodies. The charnel ground is much like a very exposed grave yard and to be there at all one is to face great fear from many levels as you can imagine (body parts everywhere and all that) but to be there at night… the monks send the students there to learn to deal with highly intense emotion using various tools of the mind.  Sometimes I wonder if this is why folks get themselves so attracted to graveyard ghost chasing experiences and freakish paranormal phenomenon fascinations and magnetisms.  I wonder if they are not trying to induce their own somewhat milder charnel ground experience in order to teach themselves to remain calm during intense situations—or some degree of this somehow.  I don’t know.  Probably some of that is dark wolf stuff too; we shouldn’t make a blanket statement there.

I’ve heard it said that everyone is (in some way) is either trying to avoid pain or induce pleasure.  I’d like to think we’re a bit more sophisticated than that; but perhaps not. Life is sometimes pleasurable and sometimes painful all on its own.  The question is can we be with it either way without fanning either flame or feeding either wolf?  Can we just sit with that—can we sit with whatever it is that comes up in the charnel ground of life even though the whole time we hear the calls of the hungry dark wolf?  He will quiet down and wander off if we just give it a little time—or so that has been my experience.

twowolvesI think to withdraw and not react for a while until you know how you want to react even if it takes months to make peace with it all—a better alternative than its opposite. Then, of course, we see how life is such a balance of up’s and down’s and irritations and joys and we don’t need to necessarily over-react to any of it.  But if we do over react and are aware we are doing so… the bottom line encouragement is to take heart because once the awareness is there, the good quality we want to substitute will eventually take hold.  Will we ever stop being triggered?  Probably best to expect that we always will be but our response to the trigger, with enough charnel ground practice, will be something we are less attached to.  And then I think too we can trust our response by not labeling it good or bad; we can say that we are acting consciously and in the end maybe that is the best any of us can do.  And that’s staying awake.   Being too strict with ourselves or too forgiving with ourselves–neither one is favorable as Buddha taught.  The middle path is best.  We have to love both wolves but not let either take over!

My own intuition was working as a guide last night when after doing yoga stretches on the floor and being at eye level with the bottom bookshelf (a row of Buddhists books), I noticed a strong attraction to one of the books.  I looked at it for a long time just allowing myself to be sure of the pull from the book; my eyes just kept going back to it in my post-yoga relaxation phase.  Without my glasses on, I could not see the title.  I took it off the shelf, retrieved my glasses to find that the name of the book is The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way – Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika (yes, the last word is really that long and when pronounced  is very beautiful IMHO).  I’m reading some other books and doing my own writing, but there’s something in this book I’m about to revisit!