A tale of Dukka Dukka and a moment of liberation.
When I arrived at the garden my head was full of thoughts of revenge, thoughts of unfairness, thoughts of the sheer “awfulness” of it all; and in turn, these thoughts were churning and creating waves of anger, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness and I was lucky enough to have just enough mindfulness to remember that if I could only pause the story and the drama for 90 seconds, everything would change…unless of course I continued to spin off into the thoughts weaving stories out of them and spend the afternoon away in the future of what might be or, lost in the past of what was.
I could choose to recognize that our home life is what it is and accept that. Not push it away – not run to some future paradise but simply stop. Sit. Breathe. Hold it. Hold myself. Remind myself that Metta and compassion are always available and this time I did something else too this time it came to me to simply surrender to lay my burdens down. That I might instead know peace and that from that space I might see, and with the seeing I could pick up the camera and begin to photograph and become absorbed in the moment and the activity and lose myself in the wonder. And it worked! 90 seconds and some very long breaths later the churning in my head and gut settled down and there was a gap and a moment where in doing nothing, compassion for myself arose and this arising shifted the moment as I turned from the anger and fear to the gentleness and tenderness of our human hearts and the question arose: “what do I need to do to take care of myself – to love myself as I love my neighbor – as I love God – as God loves me?
I am a man of faith and a man of ritual and yes I believe in magic and our ability to enter that space where one is compelled to stand and gaze in awe and delight. My ritual is to stop at the threshold of a path leading through a well kept archway and temple of trees, branches, leaf shapes and textures above and all manner of growing things below including flowers and often wonderful dancing light. Here, I pause to take time to bring my attention into the moment and to allow my heart to open to the vast web of extremely fortunate conditions and people that came to be so that I might be able to stand at the threshold to the garden and feel alive. Feel Joy and gratitude for what in the moment is.
Repeated relapses and much practice has shown me that attempting to enter the garden with the intent to see and photograph is next to impossible when my mind is anywhere / every where other than here. For me, to see, I need to be attentive. Present. Mindful of what is occurring and be still and receptive and relax.
The Poppies have been exceptional this year and this year Colorado Blue Columbines started popping up in the middle of the bright red dancing shape and light.
I had just finished completing the above image and had sat back to enjoy the pleasure of happiness, when Dawa appeared. In a quick recap, last year I asked Dawa, a Tibetan Buddhist flower artist who creates the gardens I stroll among to teach me what he could of his practice and his experience walking the Buddhist path and there are several blog entries of his teachings. I saw Dawa hop off his Tesla electric ranch cart seat and amble across the apple trees towards me with a big grin and and warm welcome and I grabbed the camera to show him what I was seeing. We shared and laughed and spoke of the flowers and how beautiful they are and when the moment arose, I asked him: “how do I hold compassion for self when I am lost in a shit storm continually thrown in my face?”
“Very hard,” he said. “The mind is like a magnet many things come and many things stick to the mind and pretty soon we don’t know what we know.
Compassion cannot be held until the mind is disciplined. Not attracted to all things. Bring the mind inside and train to be as a mountain.”
I showed him the above image and showed me where I had left my water bottle from the previous visit to the garden, we smiled and parted ways and I went down to the shade where White Columbines grow.
I laid on my belly grateful that at 66, I can and I played with this image below. I was drawn to the form of light and shadows interacting at first and then I saw a touching relationship that seemed to echo the feeling in my heart as this “cat” appeared on the viewfinder.
The realization that came to me is that I have no control over my neighbor and to extent that I engage in delusion and in thinking that I can, I will be stuck – Stuck to the magnet mind and lost in the story and that will not serve our cause, it will not be conducive to skillful means and it will be playing the same old Dukka Dukka magnet mind game – it will be playing his game.
I saw that the way forward is the way of faith and trust in God – in the Dharma, in The “More” of William James in the acceptance that what ever the outcome may be of which I have no control over either. I only have the choice of how I relate to the shebang. Will I accept with Love or maybe bitterly reject with anger and hate? My choice. No answer – no clue.
It does, however, occur to me that finding peace and making peace within oneself requires both laying down my burdens and letting go in surrender, the ego need to control; and sitting firm as a mountain – focused, attentive, mindful and present. Focusing and letting go. Becoming aware of a moment of light – of a moment of grace and not wanting to hold on to what was as it fades away. Knowing through the heart that Jesus is gentle and tender and knowing from my heart that it can be as a mountain, watching things come and go. That I can bare it – we can bare it. Trusting that we will survive this. Trusting the noble human heart.