Tuesday, December 21, 2010

nam myoho renge kyo

I've been trying to embrace the course of my day. Physically and mentally. After so much time in bed, in pain, my first inclination is to take an escalator instead of the stairs, the train instead of walking, sleeping a little later. It's not always wrong. I just have to learn to slow down until I'm ready for each new action. Meditation helps. Not in lotus position or anything, but as I walk, I clear my mind, become conscious of the act as I move through space. Today I was thinking, or rather, became aware of the mantra of Nichirin Daioshin Buddhism, nam myoho renge kyo. You can look up all the sites that talk about this mantra, which roughly translates into 1. the entire meaning of Buddhism 2. the name of the teachings of Buddhism (devotion to the lotus dharma, or the cycle of enlightenment) but I come at it differently. Today I think I had a little breakthrough.

It would be a lot to explain, but think of the idea of grace, as enlightenment. Grace is a gift of spiritual or moral vision, of favor or love, if you believe in God. If nam means devotion, or "I devote myself" it can also mean, "I take refuge in" or "I surrender myself to" the lotus dharma, the path of grace. The path of grace is not something readily apparent, you can't always travel on it. You don't always know whether you're on it or not.

I've written about one of my favorite sayings, from a conversation with the guy who runs my local hardware store: there are two ways to do everything, the right way, and over and over again until you do it the right way. This is an essential spiritual teaching, for me. I want to believe with Buddhism, that all roads lead to paradise. That you can struggle all you want against this or that encumberment, but eventually, you will lean to surrender yourself to the lesson.

I heard a woman tell the story of her near death--- that her first words, on coming out of the coma were about herself in the third person. She had been out of her body for so long that her own life seemed to be someone else's. And after all, if we are spiritual beings on a human quest, how can we know who we are outside of this existence? The batch of chemicals we travel in guides our emotions, our thinking, our every moment. Until we are free of the illusion that the person we think we are, right this minute, is who we really are, we can't begin to answer our real needs. I'm not saying our emotions and thoughts aren't real, our physical bodies, too-- they're all real, but they are only temporary.

If I can surrender myself to the path of grace, take refuge in the cycle of enlightenment, devote myself to learning what can't be taught, where will I end up? All I can do for now is stay open to it. I can't fight and force myself past my own abilities and reach the path of grace. I can't stay still and protect myself from life and pain. I can only move along slowly, eyes open to what I might see, and encourage myself to take refuge in the hope that I might be moving in the right direction.

And so, as I walk out onto the street, I listen to the sounds around me, I see each person who passes by, I try to open myself to the day, to devote myself to the path, and take refuge in the grace of its wisdom. If all I get out of it is some peace before I start my day, the courage to walk up a flight of stairs, well, that's not a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hello out there

I'm finally feeling better, dug into my savings and paid for botox injections to kill off the migraines and that plus a vicodin and a martini & there's a blissful-ish moment to think. For now. I barely made it through work, I reach a certain point where my whole body is buzzing and my head is a mile across, like right before you ge the flu, but I know it's the migraine trying to come back & it doesn't matter what I have in front of me, the outcome will not make sense. The night editor sent me home. People can see this in my face. Pinched and half focused, and a hundred years old. I drag myself to the curb and a cab. By some miracle I end up at home in bed but nothing helps until I assemble my arsenal.

Un-pain is my fantasy land.

The other day I saw a baby-- a man with a baby in a snuggly thing on his chest; I mean. But I saw the baby more than the man. Because the baby had that shock of fuzzy, staticky blond hair like an insubstantial halo. Like Jesse had as a baby. And I looked at the father, I was behind them, and it was in the subway station-- the father was in his mid twenties, with hair the same curly dark blond Jesse's would be. I'm telling you this because it's gotten to be a regular thing. Guys who look like Jesse. This was the first time that, like a dream, baby Jesse and adult Jesse were together and I thought, that would be life, my life. If we'd been that lucky. I wanted to tell this total stranger: be thankful. Get down on your knees and thank God you are alive in this crowded subway station with your sleepy baby on your chest. You have everything.

I hope he realizes it. I hope I can see my own everything before it's taken away again. I hope you see yours. Because that would make all this worthwhile.