Skip to main content

How smooth are things?

Rubble and bleeding brown skin hits close to home for me. Horrible images and horrible sympathy for my students. A good many of my students fell into the socieo-economic group whose only recourse was to hope for a spot in the super dome, during Katrina. I was already back at college in Pennsylvania. My parents easily escaped. But some of my students stayed and saw horrible things. Some did horrible things.

I'm thinking of one of my students who saw a murderer killed in the super dome. He remembers how the M16s tore through the body. He was about eleven.

My family didn't have the easiest time either. 9 feet of water in St. Benard Parish. Never saw that house again. By the time I got back, it was swept away by organizations, mostly christian.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, things are better? That student has had more than one gun in his face for bicycles or ipods.

I don't see my job as easy, either. I often don't feel that I'm doing all that good. That I'm just putting out fires, one after another in the inner city classroom.

I hate the first noble truth. I've always been told that hate is the only real sin in Buddhism, if there are any, and I hate that I can't get past my own karma to help others. My body is moving, it looks like I'm helping, but I know I'm thinking, "Somebody needs to help me!"

I also suspect that knowing hate is wrong isn't enough. There's nothing to read or hear to realize that.

It feels rather childish. Like it's time to share my snack and I don't want to.

I want to feel empathy, real empathy. I'm just not open to it right now. I know I'll donate to the red cross, I know that Haiti needs help, and I'll give what I can, but what if I know that I'm not really feeling anything?

What should it feel like, anyway?

Comments

  1. I feel like I am always asking people to try and explain karma to me. But I guess maybe it doesn't really matter what it is.

    Helping is so curious. If I remember correctly, one teacher said you really can't help anyone. All you can do is assist someone when they ask. I am not sure why you do the job you do. I imagine you don't earn much respect, prestige or money for putting out fires all day in the classroom. But maybe you love your students, maybe you even empathize with them. When you act from love does it really matter exactly what you are doing? I was told on more than one occasion when trying to resolve a dilemma over choosing a course of action that we never really know what helping is or what the result of our action will be. But we are, for the time being, in these bodies, on this earth and we have to do something.

    It's okay to be confused, even at 27. No one ever said being a boddhisatva would be easy. Someone else once said the easy road is hard enough.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hate the first Noble Truth? Human life is inherently unsatisfying. It is. I find when I feel pierced by love for my grandson, I feel fear for his future, I hope I won't die before I see him grow up. Blake said "Joy and sorrow intertwined." During the feast, humans know the famine may come. I don't think other organic life goes through this.

    I let Melinda and Bill Gates give $1 million to Haiti - I don't have much money to give. I cry every night as I watch the news. I think of Kali the Destroyer. It is inherent in life that it can die, that's what life is. I am glad to have you back.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

We Are The Ones Who Can Die

This is me hunting hogs with a semi-automatic weapon. This was a past life( about 8 years ago.)

A lot can change in 8 years.

I grew up around guns. I received my first when I was 10 years old. I went to a high school with a shooting range in the basement, for the high school competitive rifle team. My dad, a career Marine, gave thorough instruction, you better believe. And for most of my life I could take them or leave them. I wasn't into guns like a lot of my friends, but I knew how to shoulder a carbine so the shell didn't eject and hit me in the eye.

That was in Pennsylvania. New Orleans was a completely different scene and the reality of gun violence really hit home (sometimes too literally). I have friends who have been shot in street violence and in combat zones. I have been threatened with a weapon and I have loaded guns with a notion of self defense.

And I used to believe that it was my right to do so.

But today I'm sad and I want to touch that sadness. I lost my …

The Transformation of Ceremony

Ordination Day

I want to say something about the transformational aspect of a ceremony. Like wine to blood, from person to priest, practice enlightenment as transmogrification. Like cucumbers to pickles, surprise! 
I underestimated the ceremony. After pursuing ordination for nine years I had visualized it into nothing. Having junior monks pass me by, then disrobe, then put the robe back on before I even got to wear it once lent a sobering perspective. Imagination dispensed. I sat and stitched and lived practice in a way where oryoki wasn't a treat, Zazen wasn't something I could talk about, and robes started to have gravity- they were not without weight. 
And I think that's the first element of my ceremony: a period of discernment and someone to discern with. In the case of ordination, my teacher, our tanto, and other priests served as mirrors and sounding boards for these two questions: Why do I want to be a priest and what is a priest? It was about as clear as wine tran…

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…