September 5th, 2010

Mindfulness in extremis

A few month age i posted about My Lai, having seen a rehash of the incident on tv.  I took a mocking attitude toward the "attitude adjustment" toward such unacceptable events, suggesting that spirituality works best for the materially secure.  When we "accept the things we cannot change" and change the things we cannot accept in extreme situations, the "wisdom to tell the difference" if often not given to us.  Choices in the material world often require resources, including money, power, and influence, which are not equally distributed throughout the human population.  Many people, in fact, have almost none of any of those things.  It is easier to speak of mindfulness from behind the walls of a monastery or in a college auditorium in the American midwest., than when is facing, unarmed and surrounded by your crying children, soldiers who are determined to kill you and them.

On the other hand, it is wonderful that spiritual resources are not subject to the "law" of supply and demand.  And if, especially if, a person has no material resources, it is good that spiritual resources are available.  They can be "flowers" which make the chains around our necks feel and look decorative, and we must not allow them to used as such; but attitude can make the difference between a good death and a bad death; one can decide to die at peace rather than in torment.  Of course, that usually takes practice, and we usually only die once.

Watching Tibetans who have lost their families, their homes, their monasteries, their country, their freedom, and sometimes their lives retain their mindfulness and their compassion makes me, novice and befogged though i am, know that if i had surrender all my material resources or all my spiritual resources, i will have the sense to give up the material and keep the spiritual.  Natives of Great Turtle Island, when faced with the power and intransigence   of "manifest destiny" were able to say: "it is a good day to die."  And many of those who did not die, were able to pass on to their descendants 150 years later many of the traditions and beliefs which had sustained their grandparents.

When you are being killed, be present, learn what there is to learn, remain compassionate and observant.

"Now when the bardo of dying dawns upon me,
I will abandon all grasping, yearning, and attachment,
Enter undistracted into clear awareness of the teaching,
And eject my consciousness into the space of unborn
As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood
I will know it to be a transitory illusion.."
        Padma Sambhava, in The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Fourth Step NOT Coming

I have decided, having giving much personal information over the past year and a half, not to go into further detail about my 4th Step or the upcoming 5th Step.  There is still a lot of ugly stuff there which i would rather share with a select few.  You should not know more about me than Dianne does; and it is the nature of AS that something like that could happen.  But i must do something about the 4th and 5th steps before moving on to the last seven steps.

And i will be able to post about the process.