Monday, October 18, 2010

Married With Children (pt 2)

Fine, and You?

I was thinking about daily life vs. that of a wandering yogi. The deeper truth seems to be that we are all wandering, it's just the the yogi manifests it openly while most of us live in denial of it. We keep ourselves very busy, frantically trying to erect order, and then spend any spare time spackling all the cracks in the walls as the ground moves.
As much as we like to think our job will be there tomorrow, and our insurance will cover"it" whatever that might be, the closest we can ever get to "security" is making friends with insecurity. As a parent and husband, there's lots to want to protect, but as a follower of the Buddhadharma I see there is really no way to avoid the suffering that pervades life, and (in fact because of that) nothing actually to protect and nothing to protect from. It would be lovely if everyone - my family included - could have a long and happy and healthy life, but it doesn't always happen. Much of the "tragedy" in any tragedy is the destruction of that fantasy, that things are fine.
On the one hand, things are fine: we have food, our health, etc. But on the other hand, there's no getting out of here alive, and the causes for our current relative comfort are many and uncertain, as evidenced with the recent economic downturn shuffling countless out onto the street without much warning. The recent fires here in Northern CO are another reminder of how quickly things can "go south."
Most people avoid confronting the possibilities of tragedy lurking around every corner, because it would simply make them upset. But it's not such a good trade-off if you ask me. When you realize just how precious your situation is, then you can find the motivation to do something worthwhile in life. And then the "safety measures" that life does warrant can be taken without either tip-toeing around in fear or strolling off a cliff in denial. I have fire insurance on my house, but I'm not scared or worried about it burning down. I also have two extinguishers handy, and keep an eye on their pressure.
When look into my kids' eyes, that terrible preciousness of having a human birth, unbearably and inevitably transforming from present to past, is a steady reminder that none of this is "mine." I will not choose to ignore that, but it doesn't make me want to grab a bowl and wander off; quite the opposite.

On his blog "Treasury of Ati," Malcolm Smith translates a bit of  (I believe Rigdzin Godem's) terma The Ten Steps of Profound Critical Points:
The Guru said, “Lady Kharchen, all ordinary activities of married couples in samsara are like unclean shit, piss and semen. One vomits as soon as they are seen or remembered, so get far away from the karma of misguided thinking."
Trusting Malcolm's translation here (I haven't seen the Tibetan, but I do trust his abilities) we can ask what these "ordinary activities" are, and what might be "the karma of misguided thinking." (I'm not sure why he chose the Sanskrit word here, which can easily be translated "actions" but also "fate.")
Is Guru Rinpoche here saying that there are extraordinary activities one could enact within a marriage when we stay away from the actions of misguided thinking?
Or is he saying that the activities of married couples are inherently ordinary and samsaric, and we should not let misguided thinking on this matter seal our fate?
Before we think too much on it, I want to keep in mind that he is here giving advice to Yeshe Tsogyal as his personal student, regardless of what we might glean about our own situation and what Guru Rinpoche might think of it.

Can a yogi-reared child develop a healthy sense of self and place in the world?
Is what we consider a healthy sense of self and place actually a major obstacle our parents bequeath to us?

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