Saturday, December 19, 2009

Between Going and Staying

Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can't be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

{Octavio Paz ~ Between Going and Staying}

Devaputra mara involves seeking pleasure. It works like this: when we feel embarrassed or awkward, when pain presents itself to us in any form whatsoever, we run like crazy to try to become comfortable. Any obstacle we encounter has the power to completely pull the rug out, to completely pop the bubble of the reality that we have come to regard as secure and certain. When we are threatened that way, we can't stand to feel the pain, the edginess, the anxiety, the queasiness in our stomach, the heat of anger rising, the bitter taste of resentment. Therefore, we try to grasp something pleasant. We react with this tragically human habit of seeking pleasure and trying to avoid the pain.

The devaputra mara is a good description of how we are all addicted to avoiding pain. When pain arises, we blot it out. Maybe we drink or take drugs or just chew gum or turn on the radio. We might even use meditation to try to escape from the more awkward, unpleasant, and penetrating aspects of being alive. Someone has just shot an arrow or raised a sword, and instead of allowing it to change into a flower, we run, trying to escape it in all kinds of ways. There are, of course, endless ways of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

However, we don't have to consider seeking pleasure as an obstacle. Rather, seeking pleasure is an opportunity to observe what we do in the face of pain. Instead of trying to avoid our uneasiness and offcenteredness by running away, we could begin to open our hearts to the human dilemna that causes so much misery in this world. We could realize that the way to turn this devaputra arrow into a flower is to open our hearts and look at how we try to escape. With enormous gentleness and clarity, we could look at how weak we are. In this way we can discover that what seems to be ugly is in fact the source of wisdom and a way for us to reconnect with our basic mind.

Skandha mara is how we react when the rug is pulled out from under us. We feel that we have lost everything that's good. We've been thrown out of the nest. We sail through space without a clue as to what's going to happen next. We're in no man's-land: we had it all together, working nicely, when suddenly the atomic bomb dropped and shattered our world into a million pieces. We don't even know what's going to happen next or even where we are. Then we re-create ourselves. We return to the solid ground of our self-concept as quickly as possible. Trungpa Rinpoche used to call this "nostalgia for samsara."

Our whole world falls apart, and we've been given this great opportunity. However, we don't trust our basic wisdom and mind enough to let it stay like that. Our habitual reaction is to want to get ourselves back-even our anger, resentment, fear, or bewilderment. So we re-create our solid, immovable personality as if we were Michelangelo chiseling ourselves out of marble.

Instead of tragedy or melodrama, this mara is more like a situation comedy. Just as we are on the verge of really understanding something, allowing our heart to truly open, just as we have the opportunity to see clearly, we put on a Groucho Marx mask with fluffy eyebrows and a big nose. Then we refuse to laugh or let go, because we might discover--who knows what?

Again, this process does not have to be considered an obstacle or a problem. Even though it feels like an arrow or a sword, if we use it as an opportunity to become aware of how we try to re-create ourselves over and over again, it turns into a flower. We can allow ourselves to be inquisitive or open about what has just happened and what will happen next. Instead of struggling to regain our concept of who we are, we can touch in to that mind of simply not knowing, which is basic wisdom mind.

{When Things Fall Apart ~ Pema Chödrön}

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo

“Wisdom is the greatest cleanser”

Sri Yukteswar

Search This Blog

This blog may contain copyrighted material.
Such material is made available for educational
purposes to advance understanding of all facets
of sentient existence...

This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted
material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107
of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed
without profit.