A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Precious Human Life
Buddhists believe in reincarnation. From their perspective all of our souls have been around for a long, long, long time. Compared to all the life on this planet, to be born human is rare and precious. It is precious in many ways, but the most precious way is that those born to live lives of leisure and opportunity can choose to devote themselves to their spiritual path, the path of the truth seeker, the seeker of dharma. They can study with all the best teachers these days through books, CDs, DVDs and, if very fortunate, in person. Right now I am one of the fortunate ones who can study lessons and apply them to my life so that I can grow spiritually.
I have returned to the study of Lojong after downloading Dzigar Kongtrul's newest book, The Intelligent Heart, which is his interpretation of the 59 Lojong slogans. Last week I got up to the third or fourth slogan and then stopped reading. I realized that I was going through the book much too quickly. I wrote my last blog entry on the 2nd slogan, "Regard all dharmas as dreams." That didn't sit right with me either and I saw that I was still going too fast. I needed to start at the beginning with the first slogan, "First, train in the preliminaries." I needed to also look at other teachers interpretations of each slogan and really dig into the study of them. I began to read B. Alan Wallace's book on Lojong called Buddhism With Attitude.
Many Buddhist teachers stress, including Mr. Wallace, that we all want to be happy. The goal of following a spiritual path is happiness regardless of circumstances. I do believe that there are people following spiritual paths who are deeply happy people and that they live all over the world. For Buddhists it is not just the desire to be personally happy, but that all sentient life be happy, hence the desperate need for bodhisattvas. Pema Chodron and her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul and B. Alan Wallace and many, many other teachers all are offering training in how to become a bodhisattva, perhaps even in this lifetime. For them, that is the most precious use of our time as human animals on this planet.
Intellectually I believe in reincarnation. It makes a lot of sense to me. Emotionally I don't know. I'm so rooted to this life and I have trouble conceiving that my soul might be very, very old. If that's true we are all very old and have much hidden (and open) wisdom. One thing I do strongly believe is that we are all essentially good, though many get let astray by mental illness. I have gotten led astray into delusions of grandeur, which is basically into a very unbalanced ego. Right now I feel mostly stable. I know that my place is a humble one and in many ways I am glad of that. And yet if I could help others and be some kind of healer that would make me very happy. Bodhisattvas are healers because they show those they have contact with how to work to heal themselves. They show by example, by practicing health in their attitudes and behaviors. I aspire to be healthy.
Health is living a balanced life. My life is still out of balance, which is why I need to raise my awareness level and appreciate my life and be grateful that I have some time to study any dharma I can find. If I can have faith that I have the potential to learn a lot while I'm still alive, it could motivate me to keep practicing. I do want to be happy. I want all of us to be happy. And so I will continue to do the work.