Apathy and indifference when caught between a rock and a hard place – Knight of Wands

knight of wands herbal tarotApathy and indifference!  How to “handle that” when there’s a lot to do and you don’t feel like doing it?  I drew a tarot card for insight.  I have packing to do and my heart’s not exactly in that–except when the guy downstairs play’s his guitar and sings like a dog howling at the Moon.  That’s motivation!  But back to the card I drew.  We all have times like that, don’t we?  Stuff to do and we don’t feel like it and know we will never feel like doing that thing–right?  Well, the KNIGHT OF WANDS brings guidance.  He’s indifferent and apathetic at times on his negative side but he also has great courage and he moves forward, although awkwardly.  All he needs is a cause… to create an attitude of service to others and then the apathy disappears.

Fire within—there has to be some type of desire that is stronger than what you don’t want to do.  I don’t want to go in the direction that I have chosen to go but I don’t want to maintain the current course either—that feels like being “between the rock and the hard place” as that saying goes.  I don’t want to go where I’m going but I don’t want to stay here either and I know that I have to go—must go and really DO want to go!  But where I’m going doesn’t seem all that enticing either.  But I know I will be helping someone and will be able to save money.  And it’s only temporary—that last part is what I need to keep remembering!

So I have to pack and there’s the pickle!  I drew a card for my apathy and indifference and lack of motivation about that.

It’s interesting that the herbal tarot connects this card [Knight of Wands] with MONKSHOOD which is actually a very poisonous plant.   It’s a metabolic stimulant and in small doses can be a used [Chinese medicine] for low metabolism.

Suddenly I think of using this apathetic indifference about packing as an athletic challenge—use it as a “work out”.  Make it exercise, work fast and it becomes nearly aerobic.  Yeah, okay—maybe that is something that I could use to change the attitude and motivate self.

What about selfless service? I  could think about how I will be helping my sister save money and how we will both be using less energy—conserving mother earth; things like that.  Yeah, maybe I could expand that and make it work as an antidote to my apathy and indifference about packing.

I can think about the guitar player neighbor downstairs and his howling with his guitar and how I’ll be rid of that aversion.

I can think about how poisonous this angry kid’s energy is and how getting away from that will be a good thing.

Determination is what is needed when this card comes up in reply to a question.  In this case, the question or concern is about my not wanting to do what I know I must—continue packing!

Between a rock and a hard place!  That’s how I feel.  I can’t stay and I feel resistance to going where I’m going.  Where did that phrase come from anyway?   Of course we know that it means, “In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options.”  Just like “between the devil and the deep blue sea”.

Well, Knights [in tarot] like adventure and change!  Moving from the mountains in the first place was that indeed!  And another move will be adventure and change too—moving in with my LEO sister and ARIES niece!  If you know astrology then, yeah, beginning to see why the lack of motivation and apathy?  But the good news is neither of them plays guitar (same notes over and over and over) while howling like a dog at the Moon.  I must think of myself as a monk going into a monastery!  devote my time for the benefit of all sentient beings and do my best to create some merit, somehow.  Must review the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva!  Must be a better Buddhist!

I don’t think Ram Das really said this but there was a recent quote on Facebook that read, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”   Oh, enlightenment and initiations and packing and never mind all that because my daughter just texted me about going to the Y for a work out.

Didn’t want to pack anyway!  It’s a no brainer; I’m outa here!  I’ll pack some more later or another day!  I think about Monkshood and motivation and attitude while I swim and maybe come back with a better attitude.  Something.   For now, I’m outahere!

Fear can be the guru that helps awaken but will it ever go away? Dealing with fear and The Two Truths

What if it doesn't work out?
What if I don’t have enough?

Last evening after a ‘house-tidy’ and a glance at the bills and monies, that last part tickled and awakened ‘the familiars’ that rest in the stomach pit area; and while they are definitely weakening as I age, they don’t seem to cease entirely.  And maybe they never will.   I’ve learned to live with their now-and-again visits, those familiars!

What do those fear-familiars want?  I think to be acknowledged, recognized for the purpose of deeper realization and awakening.

“Okay”, I say, “but just for a little while and then I’m going out the door for a walk.”

I knew it would work–the walk. That was my intuition, my inner guide making that known.

It was a brisk, windy October night and it could not have been clearer to me that I needed to walk out the door after I dealt with them.

I think it was teacher Ajahn Chah who said that it is okay to get some control of where your mind goes by shouting at yourself.  I’m not into that exactly,  but I get the point he was trying to make about discipline of the mind–in fact I’ve been writing about that in my blog and newsletter lately.

What’s the point of being here in this reality in these (many times) trying circumstances?  And don’t’ forget we have beautiful experiences too which balance them out.   And actually the idea overall or what is recommended by the spiritual teachers is to take neither polarity too seriously, meaning the good or the bad–not getting attached to either one.  Good times, bad times—attach to neither.

Oh, here’s another example.  For instance, we can take love and hate–those polarities too.  We suffer if we attach too greedily to either emotion.  If we attach excessively to family, lovers and friends, when there is death or change (and there inevitably is—remember about impermanence?), this turns to suffering.  So that’s what I mean.  Not saying we shouldn’t love one another but not in extreme ways.

Well, getting back to it now….  the point of or purpose of these fear guru’s in our lives  (and yes, fear can be our teacher)  is to teach us—remind us really because we already know this but forgot—about the impermanence of life and those things that we over-identify with  which aren’t real yet when we think they are.  And that, in a nutshell, causes our suffering.

For me it always brings me back to the two truths of conventional and ultimate reality–with that understanding the mind becomes comfortable and at peace.

We, in our conversations with our fear, realize that we become attached to seeing our life a certain way and then we become attached to that view, you see?  We can explain that to our fears and they say, “Thank you, we simply forgot.”

Circumstances that are difficult help us to awaken; otherwise we would remain in blissful sleep.  Life difficulties help us to work through and work out those issues that keep us from developing virtue.

Yeah, and that reminds me of it.  Of what?  One of my early channeling sessions my communication was spirit involved my question—why are we here?  What’s the purpose?  And the answer I received seemed too simple then and I nearly discarded it but always kept it on a shelf in my mind and over the years with all my spiritual study and life experience (today I have reached my double 6 birthday, so I have a little of that)… anyway, in all that I’ve studied and lived that answer, being here to develop virtue, makes more-and-more sense.  It gets clearer every year—virtue.  Like what?  Well, patience is a virtue and what are some of the rest?

Well, here’s the great Benjamin Franklin’s list of virtues:

  1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Well that gives you one idea–there are many virtues.

Developing the virtues is basically about being the best human you can be–which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Anyway..,.

Going back to the topic here, let me add that it helps for me to think in terms of the reasons for what is happening; and so then I think difficulties are there to help awaken us to the ultimate reality, otherwise we may never get it.

So my glance at the bills and money situation ultimately caused a moment of remembering and deeper awakening thanks to the tea with the fear gurus.

And then I bounced down the steps and out the door into the night air, breathing deeply into the wind, shaking my shoulders.  I shook my head too in order to wobble and jiggle away the tears that had been forming behind the throat and eyes.

I walked into the darkness having another conversation…. this time with my inner guide, my wisdom guru.  Although I remained a bit unsteady emotionally for a while, that was further remedied by my guide (after our talk) then suggesting a pop-in surprise visit with my sister and niece.  So I walked to their door and knocked.   We caught up with things and then ordered pizza (which was not that good for my trim and slim goals) yet was totally and completely soul-satisfying.  I must say the Pizza Hut pineapple pizza was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed each bite!  So…
What’s the moral of the story?

I think that the old seeds and old fear habits are always there, but that’s not  “who we are” since essentially there is no self.  And because that is so, those seeds and habits are just life being what life is—the nature of human existence.

Our body and emotional nature contain those habits because we are human, but we don’t have to over-identify with it all.

Why?  Because ultimately there is no self.

But while we are here in human form we still make efforts to be the best human we can be.  How do we do that?  Where and when distress appears we do our best to transcend it.  It is called transcending the world and destroying delusions. 

“No mud, no lotus”—this is a saying that we could translate into “No fear/distress, no awakening”.   You disagree?  You say your life is nothing but total bliss and you’ve reached enlightenment 24-7?  Hmmmm….. give that one a bit more thought because you may be simply asleep.  Just sayen’.

Earth living and it’s downers are what keep us having realizations, keep us awake, help us to learn to breathe in and out in the present moment, releasing attachment, aversions, fears.  One does get to have time-outs, rest periods, of course; but then it seems to come again for us on deeper levels like peeling layers of an onion.

Don’t get too full of ego and mistake the rest and recovery period for enlightenment–through observation it seems to me that the universe loves nothing more than to crush smug ego’s.

Maybe that’s why those ‘familiars’ don’t seem to completely ever go away, they’re always there lurking–to help us stay aware, remain humble, and so that we do not fall into lazy patterns (see above paragraph).

But none of this is who I am… the “I AM” that is beyond, beyond, completely beyond just observes this and smiles.

Further, I don’t need to become attached either way and that’s where the peace is located–in that place of non-attachment.

No aversion, no attraction.

Yes, yes, we have to deal with that which everyone else (and a part of us) agrees is conventionally real, but ultimately none of it exists.  Outwardly we have to agree; after all, when my rent is due (which is the thought that started this blog post!), I cannot go into the rental office to tell the Lords of the Land that ultimately neither they, nor I, nor the apartment itself exists and therefore, I don’t need to pay my rent.  Outwardly I have to agree, but inwardly I know the truth.  That’s the “pickle” (as the saying goes) that many of us light-workers (as they call us) live within.

Fear guru’s help us to remember these things.  My personal fear guru?  Oh, he’s much gentler and kinder than he used to be; but still I don’t like his presence at any time whatsoever!  Yet, the tea and cookie that I give him and little talk we have seems to comfort him (and me too-wink!) so that then we can resume the life-game here with greater ease!

Let the games begin!—that is what I say to myself when I wake up in the morning sometimes, mostly when I’m not so afraid.

Giving Up Concern for this Life–Can We? Enlightenment Practice #4 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

Vajrasattva
Vajrasattva

I asked a vajra teacher, a Lama that I’ve been communicating with, for a 2nd best book to continue my sort of self-made dharma lessons on The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva.   Oh, maybe vajra teacher is incorrect phrasing according to custom.   I think the word for spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism is vajracary or vajrasattva is probably more technically correct but I can’t say for sure being an American who is trying to pick up where haven left off from previous incarnations—not that I could prove this.  Which actually brings me to the 2nd best book since the 1st best was $150 (totally out of the budget).

I asked a Lama of the Karmapa lineage and was referred to a book by the 17th Karmapa (who I have heard speak on TV and really admired) called ‘Traveling the Path of Compassion’, a book on the 37 Practices, which I’m now reading.

I just finished a passage written by the Karmapa on Practice #4 which was cool because he wrote about death (specifically, there’s no death) and reincarnation—he gently points out how it is almost impossible to feel that a loved one who has died is totally gone and never present in some way!  “Most people”, he writes, “have a feeling that a loved one who has passed away is still somehow still available.”

He says death is not nothingness.   Nor is it a blank state; it is the time when we transfer our light to another way of being.  We are, he says, not a candle that is finished when the flame goes out but instead a torch, a light shining everywhere that can be transferred one bright flame to the next.

Well, I had to include that here and write about that first before I start to write what I’m REALLY writing about today!  HA!  So here we go—the real reason I’m writing today!  And it still relates to Practice #4 which is about attachments.

The teaching is about being attached to this life and of course if you practice the dharma or said another way if you subscribe to the Buddhist philosophy of life and therefore relate to and start to apply the teachings to your own life (in order to increase happiness and decrease suffering first for self and then for others) then what you do in Buddhist language is that you “practice the dharma”.  Which in this case the word dharma means “the teachings” –but the word also translates to “phenomenon” and I’ll write on the correlation there another time.  Getting back to the practice of dharma, he says that we have to release attachments to life if we are going to call ourselves a Buddhist and in particular a Bodhisattva…. [paraphrased].

BODHISATTVA, WHAT?

By the way the word bodhi translates into “understanding the nature of things” or “enlightenment” –the root word “budh” means ‘to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand).   Sattva in sanskrit means purity and reality.  One could say bodhi means enlightened and sattva means existence.  So, a Bodhisattva is one who lives an enlightened existence.  And the 37 practices was written in the 13th-14th century by a highly respected and devotedly compassionate monk instructing others on how to live an enlightened existence.  That could be one way to put it which I think would be a fairly correct interpretation based on what I’ve read and surmised and I offer it to the reader with the highest intentions.

Anyway, the point that I wish to make here is that I was reading a passage written by the 17th Karmapa on the 4th Practice of a Bodhisattva in which he refers to those who turn to the dharma when in a crisis of some sort and the rest of the time their main attraction is to life and the world or the world’s entertainments.  He says that we consider our worldly possessions crucial to our lives and the very source of our happiness.

Personally, I see people who hang to each other in that same way, seeing the ‘other’ as the very source of their happiness as well.  And as he points out, even if we do not think these things consciously, they are at the background of our minds—our unconscious attitudes hold to worldly things as if our happiness depends on them.

Personally, I am guilty of this fault but am, through effort now, working to keep the dharma teachings working at all times in the background instead of my attachments and aversions running the show.  It’s a process!  There are slippery patches and tricky spots but I’m taking those and really more consciously working with them—sometimes I go unconscious and fall back into  the old habitually created karmic patterns.  (There’s an actual word for that; it sounds like “bach-tah” but I cannot seem to find the proper spelling and definition…sigh! I looked thru the glossaries of 3 Buddhists text I have here on the shelf and consulted a number of online Buddhists dictionaries! )  Well, there’s another  lesson in practice #4, letting go and non attachment!  (I’ve been highly obsessed and attached to finding that word for a good while now! ugh! letting go!)

Yeah, so anyway there’s a word for those patterns and I’ve just turned all my writing time into google time instead trying to find that right word and in giving up now must conclude this writing!

Here’s the note from the universe this morning that somewhat resembles what I’ve been trying to convey here to some extent—using life challenges to reach non-attachment and therefore happiness is what I’m trying to say and the thing below that showed up in my email says it better than I could in 10 pages of writing which is why I’m including it.  And with this, will have to wish you a good day—my time is up!

NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE IN MY EMAIL BOX TODAY WHICH CORRESPONDS TO MY CURRENT BUDDHIST STUDIES:

(www.tut.com)

It’s not that your life totally rocks, Joy, except for a few tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.

But that your life totally rocks, in large part, because of the tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.

Stranger than fiction,
The Universe

By the way Enlightenment Practice #4 of the 37 Practices reads this way:

Everyone will part from relatives and old friends;

The wealth of long labor will be left behind;

The guest, the consciousness, leaves its lodging, the body behind:

To give up concern for this life is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Oh, and by the way, (in addition to my own personal experiences and the work that I do as a medium), I’ll take the 17th Karmapa’s word on the afterlife and reincarnation since he’s the official incarnation of the 16th Karmapa’s previous life… well, you know what I mean.  He passed the tests involved in determining the lineage continuation–he was the 16th Karmapa in his last life, and now he’s back as the 17th Karmapa!  So I supposed that if anybody should know about this reincarnation stuff, it’d be him.  Or I’d like to think so; and we have to trust, eh?