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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On September Suffering, On Refuge.

Bayou Teche, Louisiana, USA.  July, 2012 by Mix Hart
I chose this photo for this particular post for its serenity: a young blue heron on the bayou, amongst the graceful lotus blossoms--a true place of refuge for the mind.
I had a dream last night that made total sense of feminism and Buddhism. I dreamed that I was me but I was also a matriarchal, nurturing Buddha and on my knee was a happy little boy. The little boy was so happy, fun and adorable; blonde, blue-eyed and freckles on his nose. I told him he looked like a young David Bowie. He jumped from my knee to go and try out playing a drum set. And then I realized that the little boy was me, as a child, in male form.

It all made sense: I am the Buddha, I am also the child looking for refuge in the Buddha. I am both male and female in energy (essence) and so is the Buddha. We are interchangeable, one and the same. We all have the nature of the Buddha and we are all of male and female truth.

September is not an easy month for most Westerners. It is a new school year, fraught with changes. One often feels confused and overwhelmed by the physical and mental demands of the day. We all suffer in ways.

I am not immune to this September Suffering.
I have been practicing mindfulness for some time, practicing meditation and learning Buddhist philosophy for ten years. So, as a Westerner (and our achievement oriented culture), I had ideas of what I should have accomplished, to date, in my mindfulness training.

When September stresses combined with other stress factors began to eat away at my happiness, I was  disappointed in my mind. I believed that it failed me. I was suffering, I was experiencing anxiety, depression and a dose of self loathing. How could this be? I thought (with all my mindfulness knowledge and training) that I would not fall into this type of suffering anymore, that the strength of my mind would not allow it.

And so, when I found myself unhappy and overwhelmed, I became angry with myself: I had failed my self again--I had not mastered mindfulness training. The desire to kick oneself when one is down is strong.
How dare I feel suffering?! I have a good life, I should be stronger than that. But then, after a few nasty kicks at myself, and discussing a little dharma with another, the mindfulness came back.

We all suffer. Strength is not in preventing the suffering but rather what one does with suffering. To feel anger at oneself, or something/someone for the suffering, only prolongs and intensifies the suffering. To have compassion, to accept it is one's nature to suffer, this is what eases the pain. Compassion ends anger and nurtures happiness.

And all those problems I have in trying to achieve the modern life, the ones contributing to the overall September suffering? They are only problems if I believe they need to be solved. If I believe they do not need to be solved, only left on their own to evolve in one way or another, I can focus my attention on the things that bring me joy. When problems no longer need a resolution, but rather, are observed as a work in progress--they are no longer problems.

This is what I love about mindfulness training, even when you think you fail, you actually have the opportunity to turn conceived failures into great lessons and experiential wisdom.

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