Before Enlightenment, the forest was like this:
after Enlightenment, the forest was like this:
Before Enlightenment, the forest was like this:
after Enlightenment, the forest was like this:
What’s your favourite aspect of Spring?
Welcoming the Spring, we all emerge from the shadows. Now is a good time to reflect, if we haven’t been already, on what our shadows have been in the last few months. What’s been keeping us from living vibrantly?
What have we been in the dark about? Our (mis)conceptions and views about ourself and others now have a bit more light shone upon them, we may see them clearer. It is a chance to reconsider things, to see everything that little bit clearer.
Maybe a time to revitalise meditative practice? In the winter period meditation can be more difficult to keep up, lethargy can set in, we can lose momentum. Now Spring is here, I feel more invigorated, looking upon the blossoming trees in the woodlands, there is vibrancy. Life is once again plainly obvious. Meditation, the act of living life, is easy!
Don’t let Spring pass you by and lose this grand opportunity to touch the reawakening of vibrancy and colour. So often we can be in winter then to summer, and miss the transition, miss the blossom, miss our own blossoming. I love noticing the tiny green buds emerging on the trees. How many of us in society fail to notice these moments?
I welcome the Spring, I welcome myself and everyone else to be an active part in Spring.
When was the last time you got your hands dirty?
I mean in the literal sense; your actual real hands covered, layered maybe, in actual dirt, mud, earthly Earth.
How many of us can actually say that by the end of the day we will have, at least, touched the Earth, the real ground beneath our feet?
What has this got to do with your inner transformational process? Everything.
Feel the cold Earth beneath you with the palms of your bare hands, get down on your knees and feel it. Embrace the Earth as much as you like and are able to, and open up as much as you can to receive the Earth’s embrace back. In my experience this is Zen. A great paradox. The safest of feelings, protected but not claustrophobic in any way, life giving, life affirming, but at the same time; the most powerful beating of the heart is induced, because it cannot be contained- a beautiful, living, huge (hearted) Bodhisattva’s presence is felt.
There is nothing like becoming One with the Earth, by actually (for a few minutes at least) rooted your body, mind and heart into that very Earth.
And besides that, isn’t the smell of soil just exquisite? The perfume of life.
It is often said there are two shores; one is full of torment, anger easily unleashed, anxiety hiding in every bit of bramble, fear in even the shadow of your own body; the other is stable, peaceful, and smiling- genuinely- is the natural way the face sits. How does one get from the shore of suffering to the shore of peace? Not by putting one’s faith in teleportation, but by putting the effort in to pass from one shore to the other, to build a raft and use it well. Paramitas can be translated as perfection, and if we use the 6 Paramitas in order to cross over into peace, we are practicing perfection. Perfection it seems, is a gift we can offer ourselves daily. Not an abstract ladder with no stiles making it impossible to climb up.
I envisage each paramita as a muscle, at first the paramita muscles are weak, feeble, easy to tire, and this makes it difficult to cross over to the other shore. But the more these paramita muscles are exercised, the stronger they become, and at best crossing over to the other shore is as good as effortless.
Recently, in the morning before I leave the house I set the intention to excercise the paramitas whenever possible. I begin with a 20 minute meditation, my dhyana paramita is exercised; I practice mindful steps on my way through town- with each step my virya paramita grows stronger; I remind myself to make ethical and conscientious choices when choices are to made, my shila paramita is moves and warms up; I listen with stillness of mind when someone needs to speak, giving people my total and authentic presence my dana paramita lifts up; when someone snaps at me, firing arrows of anger or suspicion or the like, my kshanti paramita muscle is more able every time to hold these arrows in such a way they are as fresh as flowers; and with all this support, all these muscles working the prajña paramita muscle inevitably strengthens, able to support further the other paramitas, like a Mother muscle, and it’s secretions help lubricate the way to Buddhahood. In fact, prajña paramita when realised and actualised, is non-discriminative wisdom, it may not be a case anymore of crossing over, but may be experienced more like the sea itself has parted.
We can never do enough of these, but that is not defeatism, because the paramitas are not something to beat, but something to cultivate, to use, to exercise.
I’ll see you on the other shore,
(and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)
I find this to be a constant, often unavoidable, aspect of Dharma in discussions but also in personal practice. The two satyas (two truths) are; worldly truth (samvriti satya); and absolute truth (paramartha satya). Essentially here we are dealing with a great dialectic between that which is relative and that which is absolute, or at least at first it seems a great dialectic, upon further maturation along the path, I find, these two truths are just that- True.
Wordly truth and absolute truth are both true, and what is more they are equally so, in practice. In other words, I find that the essence, or teaching, of the satyas is that it’s not about transcending the world of samvriti satya where suffering is bound to reach and realise paramartha satya where Buddhahood awaits. It is by working with the samvriti satyas, the 4 noble truths for example, day by day that lubricates the way to paramartha satya- where concepts collapse altogether, and in the words of the great Boddhisatva Avalokiteshvara; there is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path. There is of course, on one level, but on another in an absolute sense- all is Done.
I find here it is unavoidable to avoid mentioning inter-dependence; any thing is entirely composed of elements that are not the thing. In the one, all resides. This is true of all things, including the Dharma itself; if one looks deeply into one teaching, all the other teachings can be realised. So one on level, for example, a pebble is a pebble, and on another is the Cosmos, but both are correct, it is precisely so, which is why the pebble is indeed a pebble, genuinely.
Being bogged down, residing in only one of the satyas, is unhelpful, in my experience. For example, taking on only relative truths and dismissing absolute truth, one cannot be liberated, by definition, but dismissing all relative truths and attempting to only reside in absolute truth how can you hope to be a bodhisattva? How can you hope to even feed yourself?
The greatest way is holding both with equal appreciation; we have two hands, one for each truth. I have found it helpful to use this phrase in contemplating the Two Satyas; “I am me; I am also not just me; but that makes me- me.”
If you’re anything like me, then you will hold paradox in high regard! And it will not have gone unnoticed that the Two Satyas is a concept itself. So the authentic Way, perhaps what I’ve been talking around and pointing to, is when ready the Two Satyas as a concept will too collapse.
or sensory cells of the infinite?
The Cosmos resides as every element,
and every element resides as the Cosmos.
Not just human; not just sensory cells of the infinite.
Not both separately.
All conditioned things are impermanent.
They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.
When birth and death no longer are,
The complete silencing is joy.
Many Thanks once again for visiting Yolking Around,
A lotus for you, a Buddha to be,
– a dharmacaterpillar
We are all familiar with the story of Gautama’s life and enlightenment, and if one is not then there are numerous and accessible sources of this information in various formats to suit your preference. So, there is little point of me copying it here, but I do wish to briefly talk about two poignant factors of the tale. The Tree and Buddha’s relationship with Mara.
The Bodhi Tree, Ficus religiosa, is a wonderful tree with its heart shaped leaves and fruits the sacred fig. The Mahabodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya was the tree where Gautama Buddha realised Buddhahood and is especially revered, but the Bodhi Tree generally is a very sacred tree in the Indian Peninsula. What the Bodhi Tree symbolises, for me, is the protection of the Buddha during the haunted stages of his meditation, but also the timeless wisdom that was the fruit of the sadhana.
Personally, trees hold those two characteristics; protection and wisdom, in perfect harmony. They are the organic, fleshy, natural embodiment of protection and wisdom. This leads me to view trees as great protectors of wisdom itself. For in many spiritual traditions in times gone by trees have played a fundamental role, the Tree of Life/Creation or Sacred Tree, can be viewed as quite the common denominator of so many prominent theologies/cosmologies connecting the wisdom of the heavens with human life rooted in the Earth; Yggdrasil of Norse Legend; the Tree of Life of Genesis and the Book of Revelation and Kabbalah; the Grandmother Ceder of Ojibway cosmology; the leaves of the Akshaya Vata of which the baby Lord Krishna rested upon during the great destruction and also of featuring in Biology’s own centrepiece, the Evolutionary “tree” of life.
I practice the Dharma as realised and taught by the Buddha over 2000 years ago the best I can, but I do not live in India, there are no Bodhi trees to protect me during my sadhana, or produce that conducive atmosphere of wisdom. Should I be concerned? No. Because in Europe, there is the Oak.
The Oak, Zeus’ own tree in Ancient Greece, Thors’ in Scandinavia and in my own native islands of Albion, the Oaks were the sacred groves of the druids. I feel something distinctly different when meditating by the Oak, as oppose to meditating inside for example. There is a certain presence, accompanying me. I am not alone. The Dharma, in its way, is present and is rich in the Oak tree. I can’t help but wonder if this sometimes subtle, sometimes intense feeling of wisdom and protection I experience when meditating by an Oak, is conductive enough to express at least a stream of the Buddha’s own awakening by the Mahabodhi Tree over 2000 years ago, through soils and roots, through air and leaves, through timeless wisdom and spirit.
But what do we need protection from, or wisdom for?
This is where Mara springs to mind, but hopefully not too literally!
Mara is the demon figure that arose during the Buddha’s sadhanas, the Great Tempter; tempting us off the spiritual path of awakening and instead leading us towards the mundane, unwholesome activities and thoughts. This is all too evocative for me, since Mara has succeeded more than once in my own path. For me, it’s the illusion that I have done enough, the collapse of structure and discipline and then, all of a sudden, I find myself completely lost, on the more unfortunate occasions with Mara whispering in my ear; paranoia strikes, anxiety erupts, the noise of my mind becomes unbearable, scattered, voices merge into one, fear freezes any kind of skilful response.
But this is OK.
The Buddha and Mara, they are but the Rose and Faeces. The Rose blooms because the soil is fertilised; the Buddha realises Awakening because of Mara’s visits. Without Mara’s visits, there is no Buddhahood to be realised.
The Buddha, in his sadhana, transformed the temptations and illusions of Mara, he didn’t resist, ignore, go along with/accept and fall into Mara’s temptations. He used the energy of transformation, by cultivating compassionate one-pointedness, and was thus able to work with Mara and the Dharma only built in momentum. Now, I hear, the Buddha and Mara sit and have tea together. It’s not about defeating, winning, victory against temptation or sin; it’s about blooming and growing at every opportunity, and this, for me, is what is so poignant about this tale. That even when Mara comes to call awakening is possible; the Dharma does not disappear under any circumstances, just one’s awareness of it.
Isn’t it a wonderful practice to be?
In to the body,
Out to the tree.
Isn’t it a peaceful practice to be?
In to the tree,
Out to the body.
Isn’t it great to share a breath?
The disappearance of me is not the end,
Goodbye to the Tree, is my True Death.
Everything and everyone, every moment;
Every momentary glance and fleeting thought;
is an invitation to stop and look deeply,
hence to realise the limitless capacity of heart.
Thank you kindly for reading, and I hope to see you visiting again soon!
Feel free to like and share, but most of all- feel Free!
I am pleased to begin this new blog at this festive season of Christmastime, just after the Winter Solstice and Uttarayan.
Uttarayan, in India, is perceived as an auspicious time of year, one of my teachers, Sadhguru has talked a little about this time of year and it’s conducive character towards receiving grace from the Cosmos and Enlightenment.
In China, the Winter Solstice is celebrated with a festival, Dongzhi, where yin is at its greatest (dark), but it is known and realised that yin must recede and for yang to ascend day after day leading into spring. In Taoist practice, this time of year is central to the theme of returning. Deng Ming-Dao offers a short poem on the “darkest day”;
“Every year has its darkest day;
each dark day is followed by light”
We know this. But often amnesia strikes and it is unfortunately forgotten; just as we made it through the winter solstice, we can make it through the mind’s dark days.
The Winter Solstice in the Celtic tradition too, Alban Arthan, is of magical character, a time to begin afresh and also where the Light, the Light of Wisdom and Clarity, can be observed and realised most easily through the prominence of the darkness.
Since tomorrow is Christmas Day, I thought I might theme posts around “The 12 Days of Christmas” only with of course a dharmic spin, so a kind of parody on the song. I hope you enjoy!
Wishing you well on your path during this festive season, wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing,
A lotus for you, a Buddha to be,