In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vajrasattva in My Life

I had the great good fortune to attend Fall Festival in France. It was so good I don’t think even French has a word for it – it was beyond magnifique, suprême, extraordinaire …
The empowerment felt deeply powerful (again words fall short), the teachings so very profound. We learned to purify not just negativities, obstructions and downfalls, but also ordinary appearances and conceptions! For the memory-impaired like me, those last two get grouped under obstructions.

But one of the key points that keeps returning is, “I need to purify.” That means me, myself, the person known as “Mimi,” (the name itself reminding me who we’re talking about).

In the last teaching at Fall Fest, we were given specific examples of how we can integrate purification into our daily life, one of the hallmarks of Kadampa Buddhism’s practicality.

You probably know that the options for dealing with negative karma are either to clear them out with purification practice, or to face their results, suffering in one of its multitude of forms. If you don’t get angry when there’s some adversity, mild or major, those ripened potentials will be purified. However,  habitually we get disturbed, irritated, annoyed, rageful … which just repeats the process. 

Sunday at the Temple I had a mild but dramatic experience of an eruption of my negative karma.
* To imagine what happened, pretend that you’re a female human, who of course comes with a female plumbing system (which my mom always cited as proof that God was a man).
Fill up a gallon jug at least halfway with water, although to really get the effect it should be a more impure substance. Thankfully I’m not talking about the other end of the plumbing system.
Head to a bathroom with the jug and start to get into position to release the liquid in your system, represented by the jug.
Before you’ve completely lowered your lower garment, start pouring the jug into your garment and around the toilet. A few moments later, more of the water will go where you intend, but a lot of it will have soaked those clothes. Continue pouring until the jug is empty.

My mind was calm, undoubtedly boosted by the weekend’s teachings, but also disappointed that I couldn’t attend Offering to the Spiritual Guide at the Temple, on Je Tsongkhapa Day, as planned, instead heading home to take a shower (which I think can be transformed into a purification practice if you use the four powers).

For perspective, it’s not that I haven’t experienced some mild, ongoing urinary incontinence, as apparently isn’t unusual for a woman my age (now 52, going on 82), probably exacerbated by cancer/chemo. But this was definitely “over the top.”

Update: As planned, I re-started chemo on Friday (delayed by the trip to France that my oncologist kindly supported). I’m back to the same drug I was on when my doctor stopped treatment in mid-June so that my body, especially my brain, could recover a bit from all the surgery, radiation and chemo I’ve had over 6+ years – on and off treatment but mostly on. That drug, “Gemzar,” mainly had fatigue as a side effect and was effective at reducing my tumors, so I am hopeful that will continue.

Yesterday I got the results of my cancer marker, which has leaped to the triple digits – not as bad as the quadruple digits at diagnosis, but far above the middle double digits I’ve had for years. Prayers appreciated.

* Pee S. Don’t try this at home.