Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Jedi's Always Win and Never Die

Sitting with the Teacher yesterday, the topic of attachment hit the discussion board. I had read in various places that love, kindness and honor were the vehicles to lead us to ultimate freedom. So we must love the people in our lives and the people of the world. But I began to confuse the lines between attachment and love. Aren't we attached to the ones we love? How can a person not be attached to their loved ones? Doesn't attachment equal love? The Teacher said that we must detach in order to love in the most powerful way. How is 'detaching' a way of getting closer? I didn't understand; I was mixing something up.

So I said, "may I reference Star Wars?" And he, of course, nodded.. knowing most any reference I can dish.

"So Anakin Skywalker is training to become a Jedi and he has fallen in love with Padme. Yoda or Obiwan (I forget), tells him that their union is not allowed. In short, attachment leads to the dark side. He must remain unattached in order to stay connected to the force without interference. Why were the Jedi not allowed to love?"

But the Jedi were allowed to love, it was just how you carried your love that mattered. The Teacher explained to me that what Yoda knew about 'the force' matched up with what Buddhists know about the universe. The reason why the 'bad guys' (Sith) were the bad guys, were because they had too much fear in their hearts. And as we all know, "Fear is the path to the dark side."

The one liner couldn't be more dead on. Fear is the path to the dark side for many reasons. For one, fear creates insecurity and insecurity can go one of two ways. You can either be sad/shy about it or be angry about it. Anger and violence is based largly, (if not solely), on the fears of people.

Speaking in terms of attachment, fear is the star here as well. When we love something we tend to do everything in our power to keep it close, to hold it tight and never let go. The idea that we may loose this, drives the wrong kind of attachment. It boils down to the fear of death or loss.

The Star Wars example fits beautifully here. Anakin had dreams that Padme was going to die and rather than accepting this fate and spending time with her, he used his energy to find a way to go against the chosen path of the universe to 'save' her. His fear of loss over took his senses and in the end, not only did he loose his love but also his dignity, his name, his entire person.

"The reason," the Teacher went on, "that letting go of something brings us closer is because we've come to terms that we are going to loose that object at one point or another. Everyone is going to die. No one knows why humans who are surrounded by death have not come to terms with this but we have to find a way because you're forgetting that you are only loosing the physical." He beat his heart with a clenched fist and shook his head as the thud off his rib cage surprised me.

"Our souls come down from Heaven or whatever people want to call it.... And they manifest into bodies and when the bodies are no more, the energy of the soul goes back into the air, back into the sky and that soul is still thriving and never dies. It's everywhere and it's with you...
Why do you think that when Darth Vadar takes off his helmet he's all gross and decaying? Because he's holding on to the physical and can't let that go! Jedi's never decay, they disappear back into the universe (or the Force) where they can join the energy and move on to the next mission."

Hmm. Well put.

So the point is, when you stop clutching your loved ones, with knuckles white, both of you will be able to breathe. You'll be free from the stress of worrying about loosing them because in reality, you already know that day is going to come. Instead, you spend time appreciating who they are today and you actually love them more by concentrating on the moment. And in this moment, if you are alive and well, you should be laughing together and being... in the moment.

May the Force be with you.
"Do or do not, there is no try."
~Master Yoda

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Cracked Pot

Every day, a farmer carried two pots to the river to fetch water. Each pot hung on the end of a pole across his shoulders. The pot on his right side was new and perfect. The pot on his left side was older and had a crack in its side.

The new pot brought back all the water the farmer put into it. But the cracked pot leaked out water in a little trail. This went on day after day for two years. The little cracked pot felt terrible. "I am so ashamed of my imperfection!" One day, it spoke to the farmer. "I must apologize. I only deliver half of my load because I leak out water all the way back to your house. You should just get rid of me!"

The farmer said, "Do not despair. Look behind you. Do you not see those beautiful flowers along the path? Those are on the left side where I carry you. I knew about your special feature so I planted flower seeds, and you have watered those seeds as I walked home.
Thanks to you, I have fresh flowers for my table. Thank you, little cracked pot. You are very special."

Excerpt from The Treasure in Your Heart Yoga and Stories for Peaceful Children
(The Mythic Yoga Studio, 2008).

Forgiveness: Even if, Even if, You Don't Love Me Anymore

I had to quote that song in my title. "Just thinkin' about... FORGIVENESS!" Quite a soulful peice don't you think? Severely appropriate for the matters at hand. True forgiveness can be nothing BUT soulful, right? It takes you down to humility, past grudges, into a tenderness and vulnerability that could reject you but you cannot let that stop you. We're talking about what comes of the ashes of forgiveness and that, my darlings, is your freedom.

On my lunch hour I decided to forget about the car, take my lunch under a tree and read from my Yoga Journal magazine that I picked up Grand Central about a month or two ago. I scanned through some old articles I had already read on the train.

One story (off topic) that was cute and noteworthy was a Hindu tale I will retype in the following post. So look for that! It is entitled, "The Cracked Pot". More lessons, people. Can't stop them!

Today the focus is on forgiveness. With my Teacher's ears and eyes far away this week, I felt the need to produce my own lesson. As he has diligently provided tasks, mantras and questions for me each week, I paniced momentarily wondering where to put my energy in a week with no guidence.

Were he here right now he would roll his eyes, smile and say, "Oh please, you have the tools, you have the power... and you KNOW it." So in efforts to make him look good, (ha ha), I read up on something that could touch anyone. This brought me to the Forgiveness article.

The title, "Forgiveness Heals: When you forgive a long-held grievance, you open the door to true freedom" could do nothing but catch your eye.
First you think, "a way to forgive? Do tell." Because it seems that such a word provokes more obsticles than miracles in most lives. (There's that ego getting in the way of moving forward again.)
Then you think, "heals? I could use some of that." Because who couldn't?

"When your heart forgives, it has stepped beyond the ego to grasp your
innate kinship -- even your identity -- with another person."
(YogaJournal - Kempton 55)

But like all mindful practices, forgiveness is not a one shot deal. The words, "I forgive you" don't escape you and suddenly you are lifted. It's more of a movement inside of you. In many cases of mindful practice, making a consious decision is your core value. This time, it's different. As forgiveness is present in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, your mind is conditioned to handle the harboring of this negative feeling in an entirely different catagory.

Before you begin thinking of how you want to forgive or even why, you want to think of WHO it is you want to forgive. Who is the first crippling enemy that comes to your mind? Was it an abusive father, backstabbing friend or a cheating lover? What about the boy that beat your son to death?

All of these scenarios play out in this article only to draw us back to one thing... basic goodness. To anyone who has read this blog before, or whoever else cares, I've mention Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior by Trungpa. This book and most enlightened teachings go back to basic goodness. In every monster there is a child. In every cold heart, was a person who wanted to be loved and perhaps was forgotten. We must remember, even if their deed was done with ill-intent, there is part of them that has faultered because of human nature.

An old friend that has hurt you, may not have done it purposely. This is the first part of the process. Who do you want to forgive? What did they do? Was it really about you? Was it really about how it would hurt you? We retreat back to asking ourselves questions. ALWAYS ask yourself what's really going on here.

In choosing to open our hearts to forgiveness, yes, we jeopardize a sense of security but at what cost? Perhaps you will be back stabbed again by another, perhaps human nature is unavoidable and you may get hurt again. But in forgiveing the negative parts in others, (some of which we may subconciously see in ourselves), we DO forgive ourselves. It even feels good sometimes to say, "I'm sorry."

Being strong in this world, being aware and living free will not always mean the things you are practicing are comfortable. But in relinquishing our choice for a fluffy cushion, we may gain the power to fly through the clouds.

Like climbing a mountain, scrapped, bleeding and weather worn, look over the edge at the most magnificant view and for a moment pain is suspended and you are devine.

Think hard about who you should forgive today, and do it. Letting go of the anger, releases the tag hanging around your neck that reads, "Victim".