What would a Bodhisattva do about loud neighbors? And the resulting Anger? And Self-Cherishing? Living Buddhism

Living Buddhism

What would a Bodhisattva do about loud neighbors?

And the resulting Anger?

And Self-Cherishing?

Bodhisattvas cave muralYeah, I’ve been kvetching about the loud neighbors but rest assured I’ve been not only externalizing a solution but internalizing one too.  I’ve used the scrape-your-fingers-down-the-chalkboard type of setting your teeth on edge irritation as charnel ground meditation; but even there one knows the exit or path that takes one away from that graveyard—in case it becomes too much, we need an escape button, don’t we?

Is it any co-incidence that as I consider those matters, I’m also contemplating death, dying in such a way that one can be liberated while still living and breathing?  Well, as much as one can anyway.  And I’m having a more serious look at The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva.  Factor that into the loud Indian neighbor situation, the contemplation on death—stir well and sprinkle with a generous handful of Practice #20.

Most blog readers will know the meaning of the word Bodhisattva but the short version of a definition is spiritual practitioner—practice of compassion for altruistic benefits.  The 37 Practices describe the enlightened qualities of an aspirant (my own words) which come about due to causes.  (Causes such as loud, boisterous, inconsiderate neighbors?)  And in the list of the practices we see definite references to those types of situations and how to integrate these difficulties of earth living into spiritual practice.

I clearly realize the ‘enemy’ if there is one in my situation with the frustrating irritations of the neighbors is within me, totally, entirely, and completely.  I got that part; so no finger-pointing please.

Do I run from it, push it away or go toward it or do nothing?  I’ve sat with it and the aversion is so great that I think I may cry if I do not put on the white noise so I cannot hear it.  I’d be the first one to run down the path and back to the monastery if I had do to real live grave-yard charnel practice!

I don’t think there’s any teaching that says that the thing that drives you the most crazy you should go seek it out just to see if you can handle it—or maybe there is and I’m wrong about that.

If you want to talk about aversion for a second—let’s do.  My aversion is to myself for having the reactions of intense, acute and profound irritation to their voices in the first place.

Before you start thinking it, let me say that I know it all comes from self-cherishing and self-grasping and attachment to an idea that my living quarters should be completely free from gawd-awful vocal intrusions. Got that too!

The wisdom teachers say that when we cave and just “can’t deal”, to use the situation to bring up compassion for all others who have the same situation in life. One great comfort is that if we reflect for even a nano-second we realize we are not alone in our suffering, whatever it is, no matter what!  With (what is the number we hear others give?) something like 6-million –or is that billion?–people on earth, there has to be at least one (and usually thousands) who are going through that exact same situation right at that exact same moment.

This brings comfort—we are not alone.  So then we bring up the ole’ catholic training and say I will suffer this and for all who suffer for the suffering souls including myself.   It gives the suffering (which is plainly everywhere on Earth, look around) a purpose, a meaning and brings it into a workable (at least for me) and relative perspective.

There’s a certain surrender in that—grant me the serenity to deal with what I cannot change.  I’ve changed what I could already—speaking to them directly (which was like speaking to a wall that is in denial that it’s a wall – for lack of a better example), and I’ve tried speaking to the management and one night I took the management’s suggestion and called the police to give them the word.  They were screaming after all and it was well after midnight and I even brought the altruistic reason into that one—“I do this act of calling the police for all the neighbors, not just myself.”

Oh, sure I can have compassion for the couple—of course.  I think they drink or drug a lot especially if you consider loud never ending conversations a drug.  And they are in a strange country – from India and you know we all have problems.  It’s not hard for me to feel compassion in those ways.  But sometimes my own frustration and self-cherishing and attachment to how I think my life should be when it isn’t gets the best of me and it seems a simple thing not to have un-welcomed human voices permeating my living space.

So yeah, I crank up the white noise (see my last blog post) as my escape valve.

But what about death? I mean that’s one experience where there IS no escape valve really.  I mean we have to deal with it and can’t go anywhere else then or we can’t turn up the white nose to drown it out.  It’s intense and frightening and irritating and we have to really let go of self-cherishing at that time, don’t we?  Well, if we don’t we suffer more.  I’m reading The Tibetan Book of the Living and The Dying (again) and this is my 2nd go at the modern version of the text by Songyal Rinpoche.  It’s more a text about living but the stages of dying are fully described both from the perspective of the dying person and the family and caregivers.  Really useful stuff for when a family member dies or we ourselves—our time will come.

How can I let go when I really need to if I cannot let go in this situation with my neighbors?  I’m working on all that.

Meanwhile, I do love the references to the point in the death process when we reach such a state of luminosity of mind that the – well, the Buddhist call them the 3 poisons leave us completely.  We can get there in this life and do if we’re successful with our meditation practice.  We reach a state where there are no attachments, and it is give a name by the wisdom teachers:  sky consciousness.  The three poisons (anger, ignorance and desire) —gone!  Have you been there to that place? A peaceful lifestyle helps and a crazy couple from India who rocks your world doesn’t!

Let me take a breather to say that I’m grateful they go to work during the day and I’m grateful for when they run their central air unit (even if they have it on fan which I’ve enlightened them about doing).  For when we both have it running, I barely hear them.  I say barely and again it’s not their fault or mine this building that we over-pay in rent to live within is so poorly insulated (paper thin walls).  I’m grateful for electricity and I’m grateful for the fact that they’re gone during the day; thank you thank you thank you thank you!  Amen.

I don’t like my inner reaction and if I’m honest it’s the first of the 3 poisons that most Buddhist text refers to—anger.  Their anger triggers my own?  Maybe?  I don’t know exactly.  But I don’t like that intense feeling that makes me feel like I’m about to lose control.  Like fingernails down a chalkboard I want to cover my ears and run; but HA, I live here!  Some things you can’t run from and this situation as well as my own eventual death someday down the line is another something that I cannot run from.

All this is preparing me I’m sure; everything is somehow always inner-related.  I looked up The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva online (http://www.dharmadhatu-center.org/the_37_practices_of_a_bodhi.html).  I’m sure I have a Book on the 37 Practices here somewhere on my bookshelf; later today I will try to find it.  (Note to self to do that!)

I should blog my way through the 37 practices as I deal with the hell realms below me (downstairs neighbors).  In the end, it may help me to be able to die well and use that moment-of-death that they talk about to enhance enlightenment.

So anyway for now, for today, OM MANI PADME HUM, what about Practice #20?

Practice 20
Taming the mind
If you have not tamed the enemy of your own anger,

Combating outer opponents will only make them multiply.

Therefore, with an army of loving kindness and compassion,

To tame your own mind is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

Generally we think we must defeat outer opponents. If only we could get rid of them, we would be happy. Or so we believe. But we cannot overcome all adversaries, and when we try, their numbers just increase. At first we have one, then two, then many. So what are we to do? The only solution is to tame our anger, tame our mindstream through bodhichitta. Armed with the attitude of loving kindness and compassion, we naturally no longer have any external enemies. Because the Great Teacher, the Buddha, the Bhagawan, had tamed his mindstream, he prevailed against the Maras who tried to distract him as he sat meditating beneath the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. The Buddha was armed with the forces of the samadhi of loving kindness, and the Maras could not harm him. The Great Yogi Milarepa tamed the enemy of ego-clinging with the force of the wisdom that realizes selflessness. And he conquered the enemy of anger with the army of bodhichitta. Because he defeated his inner foes of ego-clinging and anger, he became so skillful that even his bitterest enemies eventually became his disciples.

http://www.dharmadhatu-center.org

Maybe in my next blog post, whenever the neighbors are ranting below me (which is usually the same time I’m blogging as a coping mechanism), instead of kvetching, I’ll blog about one of The 37 Practices of the Boddhisattva.  That’s the lose plan, time permitting — stay tuned?

Let’s see if blogging my way through this can help others, I’ll do my best.

“Namaste!” which is what I said while giving a slight bow to my downstairs neighbors about 3 weeks ago (sigh!)  Meanwhile, reaching for my copy of The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying, lifting it to the sky, making a bow to you and the wisdom teachers who have gone before us…. I bid you good day!

When Life is Hard, Sit Unmovable, Allow Tears, It Clears, Then Act

I watched myself cry over the weekend and then the mud settled and the water became clear.  In love with synchronicity, I  just came across a recent Facebook post with this image and quote that sums it up:

Clear Water After Mud Settles
Clear Water After Mud Settles

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?   Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?   –Lao Tzu

[credit for image and quote to Facebook’s ‘Mystic Path to Cosmic Consciousness’]

It doesn’t matter much what triggered it really; it could be the Scorpio Sun transiting right over my Scorpionic Chiron triggering the conjunction to the neighboring natal Scorpionic Mercury—all not far from the South Node.  A good summary is that I took a dive into the depths and everything got muddy; things got stirred up.  Family versus Career and old betrayals of trust…. am I betraying myself?  A good deal of resentment woven into the tears and feelings of loss were  contained in there too … loss of freedom; yeah, all that old stuff.  Probably a lot of it is simply emotional debris, mud.  I had to sit with it unmoving until I knew what action to take.  It took a while.

I will admit crying for hours (off and on) for the same hopeful benefit that all my posts end up here—that some reader will find it helpful.   It’s funny how blogs are.  When you type them, it’s like you’re talking to yourself; but then you let the cyber world in (based on who stumbles upon the post when) and well… it’s strange, that’s all. But then strange is the story of my life lately.

Take right now.  I have meditation music on Pandora on my TV courtesy of my Roku and it’s not loud, nor is it overly soft—enough to be heard without being offensive to the ears.  Yet I am also hearing the thudding beat of what sounds like someone hammering my wall and ceiling with a soft rubber mallet.  The drumbeat of some neighboring muggle’s stereo music player.  Yeah, this I knew I’d face sooner or later.  It’s strange because most other times I can pretend I’m here by myself—I try to forget that I live in one rather large house (like a Brownstone) with other people in it.  Like I say, strange.  And right now it increases my intense desire to be beamed up into the silence of space or to pack up and head back for the silence of the mountain tops.

Anyway, back to mud settling and the water becoming clear.  It sometimes does take a while to for the mud to settle and while it does all that it has kicked up seems to need to be cleansed from one’s own heart with one’s own tears.  To allow it is the only thing a person can do at those times—or at least for me this is how it must be.

One feels certain energy beforehand—perhaps anger, resentment, disappointment…oh, you name it.  It doesn’t matter and you know it’s not… well, you don’t know the cause or the cure.  So what I do is just sit and breathe, letting it be what it is—I let it show itself to me.  And this requires feeling it and the tears that are part of the experience of sitting and letting the feeling be what it is.  I do not hold it and thereby magnify it; I just let it be and I cry until it is cleared.

I did this.  I didn’t know I’d cry.  I started out feeling frustrated.  I sat, and sat and breathed and did not move…. Exactly like the quote above.  Then the tears flowed and the heart felt like would burst and more tears and the tears seemed out of line with the earlier frustration – they were – but something needed to be released.  There was a lot of mud and I could not see clearly but I cried until it all settled. There were a number of things at the core pushing the feelings forth from their depth—some I can do nothing about.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”   Yeah, right there at that point is where I was this weekend.

I found one thing at the core that I ‘could’ maybe do something about.  I’ve had a loss of freedom in certain areas of my life due to a recent geographical move and if I let it get out of control, it can become highly frustrating.  A bit like my house neighbor with the muffled drum beat banging at the corners of my mind as I type.  Yet, while typing I still hear the birds chirp as they visit the feeder just outside of the sliding glass door to the right of me and the meditation music to the left of me and my own fingers tapping on the keyboard.  I am here now and what is, is.  I find the rubber mallet type muffled drum sound unpleasant and the rest acceptable.

Ruling things out is what I had to do through my tears.  Just like I cannot control the musical neighbor, I had to sort through what I could do and let the rest go.  It was toward the end of the day when I realized one thing troubling me is that I’d lost my ability to be creative and expressive with my work at the drop of the hat with no time-table consideration.  Now days I have a time table, a schedule—an actual written schedule!  And my life schedule is dependent upon which family members have which days off and what days there is school and school activities—now the action is focused on the Xstian holiday school programs and those practice schedules!  These are now all a part of my life.  The spontaneity and freedom of being able to work through the night when the spark of energy became inflamed – well, those days are over.  I have to be up and atem’ at 6 am, but now with the time change make that 5 am.  Nice touch!

Well, that’s the part I cannot control and it goes along with me mourning my old life and trying to get used to the change—include the sound of a rubber mallet on my walls in in the list of what I’m having to get used to!  Whatever, it is.  It just is as it is.  Grand me the serenity to accept….

I realized that one core issue is that I’ve not written or recorded a single word of my intended intuitive astrology class!  And while it may be difficult to curb the flow of the creative juices since I have to kick those to the side to meet other obligations with family, I realized that there was one thing that I could do.

When the tears of frustration and resentment and betrayals began to settle as I remained unmoving as the Lao Tzu quote above advocates, I came up with an idea.  This originated from the ultimatum that arose as the mud settled.   I naturally reached a state of knowing that I could continue to cry or I could through my tears do something, take some action.  Through the silence, tears and the hours of unwavering sitting on the meditation cushion, an idea arose.

I realized that if I created a better space for working on the course that I want to offer—that taking this action could help to compensate for the lack of creative freedom that I’d become used to over the past 15 years.  No longer is my time my own and while grieving this loss, there is still motivation to help myself despite it.  I got busy the next day moving my desk to another part of my living room and in the cubby corner where my desk was, I surrounded myself with my shelves of astrology books and notes.

I’d remembered something author Wayne Dyer mentioned a number of times and each time he did my energy would leap!  He said that when he wrote his books that he’d sit down in the middle of an empty room and surround himself with books from other authors and then he’d use intuition to grab the right book in the right moment for the right quote from an author or the right teaching from a teacher.  He said that it would all just be right there for him.

I’ve always loved being surrounded by my books—all that wisdom and knowledge being close to me… well, I could happily live in a library and that’s my idea of heaven but of course with many windows and plenty of gardens and wilderness to wander through also.  But before I lose my point, let me return to telling you what I did; but let me add that sometime ago the rubber mallet stopped banging.  I didn’t notice when it did exactly, but peace has been restored.  Thank you!

So, my desk is now closer to the sliding glass door which I like anyway and while I cannot recreate an empty room like Wayne Dyer did (I’ve heard him say that he rents an empty condo for a period of time to write with no distractions) and while I will have the distractions and interruptions of family obligations, I can do my best to create a conducive environment that support my goals in the ways that ‘are’ possible.  I can also call to the universe to help me release resentments and forgive betrayals and surrender to what is in the meanwhile.

Anyway, I placed my meditation cushions in the center of the little space and purchased some colorful rugs that remind me of Tibet for some reason.  Oh, perhaps I can take a little photo or two to post here…and while it is a small space, I hope to be inspired to use my time there to create the astrology class—the astrology gods willing.

Here… c’mon in and see what the clear waters after the mud settled led me to do…here’s my little space in my one room place for creating an astrology course….

Photo of My Astrology Den
Photo of My Astrology Den

Yeah, so it’s a small space and actually not as small as it looks in the picture.  I guess the point is that you can cry just so long and then it seems to me that you’ve got to  get up and take whatever action the clarity that is achieved through the release of tears and the mud settling reveals.  Wow, that was a long awkward sentence, but I’ll let it stand.  One does have to go through the process however.  And in my case, I had to demand the space and time to be able to do it.  And sometimes it’s very appropriate to do that!

Just for the record, this past weekend the Moon was in Cancer, opposing Pluto—probably pretty emotional energy for anybody.  Sensitive types would be affected more profoundly than others.  Like I said, it is what it is – grant me the serenity to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

If all else fails, we cast a spell!
If all else fails, we cast a spell!

And then if all else fails—there’s always casting a spell which I do turn to once in a while, reminiscent of my wiccan/pagan past lifetime!  I still believe in them and have worked a few with the help of the divine energies that support my intentions!

‘Nuff said for now.

I’ve got an hour fifteen before I go pick up my granddaughter from after school singing practice… here’s hoping I make good use!

And as always, I hope this post will help another along the path.  I should blog more (note to self)… grant me the wisdom to change what I can, like I said.  Om mani padme hum!

Just wanted to end reminding about Scorpio energy—when the Scorpio Sun hits personal planets in Scorpio, deep stuff is going to get triggered I suppose.  I didn’t consider that until today (its Monday after the crybaby weekend!) and toss in a Moon opposing Pluto; yeah, that’s the way of things.

I feel much better today—taking that action (wisdom to change what I can) and the rest I’ll continue to accept what I cannot change while hoping my spell will weave a little magic!

In the world but not of it; adjusting from a life of quiet solitude to commotion

I’m adjusting to change.

Meditative states carry over after getting off the cushion and moving on to other activities of daily living.  The state remains if not interrupted and carries over and one is open and receptive.  The mind becomes like one large flat plate, an empty plate.  And it remains so, if not interrupted, for days, weeks, months.

And there are no longer barriers of protection from the ego since one has tamed that aspect of mind enough to create a calm, flat and receptive plate.  Well, that’s how I relate to mind and life anyway and it is how I am able to be “psychic” and employed by clients in that capacity.

In the process of creating that plate so-to-speak and maintaining that state, I bump into my own thought processes, allowing whatever arises to do so yet also allowing it to dissolve.  All story lines of ego structure melt away too as becoming one with that open plate feeling of openness and receptivity grows.

I could say that this open plate state which sort of feels like one huge horizon of infinity (it’s hard to find the words) enables a state of impersonality; non-personality.

I really like to be in that state and of course achieving this state is part of my job, my career, my service work here.  I’m there when I do readings.  And if nothing distracts me (if I don’t distract myself), I can stay there for days as long as I’m “Home Alone” if you pardon the movie reference.

I just had to laugh at a reference comparison (analogy) that came to mind here.  To meditate and put one in that state of the empty plate and non-personality can be understood by associating it with hitting the “refresh” button on a web page.  If the mind begins to wander and gets too complicated by getting too many other pages (thoughts) open, one can hit refresh and come back to the present moment, now; back to the state of the open plate—one huge horizon of infinity.

No, I’m not talking about any type of escapism here.  It’s more like being fully present.

When someone is habitually open and receptive as I’ve been describing and then enters a room of 50 personalities with helter-skelter minds or even pulls out into busy traffic or heads into a busy shopping area—wow.  I’ve been able to realize the benefit of ego-structure as a type of boundary and am working with a level of integration which enables me to function here in a busy community and in close proximity to family.  It is almost laughable when all these entwined and complicated egos with complex entanglements come together in one room!  Multiply that by 1,000 busy grocery shopping days!  Where is my open receptive plate? What happened to my infinity horizon?  Where did it all go?

I’m working with it; trying to function as myself (whatever self means because there really IS NO self in the true sense of it all) in these crowded settings.

I’ve found a particular type of meditation helpful lately.  One thing is that I keep my eyes open which helps me to be present but not (at the same time) tuned into the present surroundings–well, just very lightly.  I am mostly non-attached yet present and aware that I am fully in my body and fully in my space and fully in my room!  This is a very good practice for me as it helps me to carry this over when swimming in (being around) very distracting energy (family dynamics, crazy traffic, even crazier grocery store).

Living in the mountains was… well, I made a Facebook Post this morning that I will reproduce here.  I am so familiar with the vibration that comes from being physically in the places such as where this picture was.  I resided (really lived!) the past 15+ years in the mountains.  And this photo prompted me to post the image and text.

[image and text below]

Pictures are wonderful! I could linger at this recent photo a good deal longer….
ET is phoning HOME!
Meditating on something simple and beautifully ordinary (like gazing out over a view like this!) enables a person to avoid self-identification and minimizes relationship awareness with others; nothing much here can be connected with ego-conflict. That is the healing gift of the mountains and mountain views. A person can become overwhelmed with a sense of non-duality, relating as”one” with the vastness.
Pictures are wonderful! I could linger at this recent photo a good deal longer….
ET is phoning HOME!

Anyway, lately while on my meditation cushion with eyes open but not really looking at anything and while putting my hands open and facing palms down over my knees (I sit crossed legged in a half-lotus position), what I do focus on at first is a straight back, head, shoulders and pretend that I am the ruler of my own kingdom (am I not?); and as I muster up that feeling, I also allow myself the sense of the  feeling of royalty (being royal) as acutely as possible–such as  in ruling my own universe, my own world.

That feels right to me and then I claim my space on the cushion and affirm that I belong right there, right here, right now in this moment and I am grounded right in that—it’s mine.  Then, of course, who is me and mine?  Yet, for the moment I allow these thoughts and feelings as the entry into (entry point of)  my meditation period.  After that, it is only to focus on breath and letting what comes up in mind to dissolve like the sun that contacts the fog; the thoughts disappear as quickly as they come up.

That helps me with living this new life down off the mountain.

On another note… completely off topic… but do you remember those Hydrangeas that I purchased from QVC at the end of spring?  I potted them and brought them with me and all summer long I’ve been watering and waiting and in metaphysical ways nurturing and just this week, finally!  One of them is giving to the world a pink flower!  It is quite exciting and brings happiness to the heart.

One of the plants (at least one of the 4 of them) has successfully begun to make the adjustment to its life here… slowly and gradually, like me.