I didn’t realize when I took refuge with the Rinpoche how sweet the pain would be…
…the true realization, no longer just words, that everyone, all beings only seek to be happy, no matter what the action, thought or deed, no matter how confused. It all roots in this desire for happiness, to be what Vedanta says we already are — SatChitAnanda — truth, knowledge, bliss absolute.
I didn’t know how paralyzing and motivating that awareness would ultimately be…paralyzing all actions I might take to procure my own happiness — fighting for the guy that just decided to return to his ex girlfriend, being angry at my own ex for finding someone else to love or distract himself with, jockeying for some position or prestige or recognition for my work….
Paralyzing because I see that none of it can make me happy — and ultimately it seems more important to someone else to attain that happiness (the man, the prestige) — recognizing that they believe in it and need it more than I do.
Motivating in the awareness of wanting the truth of life — the hard deep wisdom of how senseless and beautiful it all really is. Recognizing Lila for her dance and recognizing that although I enjoy the play enormously, it is still a play.
And how it all is threaded again with this desire for happiness. This man, my neighbor, lovingly, awkwardly telling me, after weeks of making love and laughter and intimate conversations with me, that he is going back to his old girlfriend to try again…back to the woman who yells at him and throws books at him and who he worries may take her own life….because his heart is huge and he is a caretaker and he somehow seeks happiness in caring for her.
He tells me of his guilt and his surprise at my calmness and acceptance….but I took a vow, and it wasn’t just words, to not harm, to help others….and if this is where his heart is, then I bow to it, and feel happy, even in my own sadness.
I listened to my other friend describe a man’s suicide an hour ago: after his wife divorced him, he took his life, a gun to his head…and without judgment, I realize it is, simply, what he thought might make him happy.
I watch my ex kindle a new love with someone else, a woman simpler and easier than I will ever be, and all I can see is his desire to be happy, his desire for someone who will give him the ease he claims he seeks.
I watch a man I truly love close his eyes to the world, with wisdom and with fear, because he too seeks that happiness that we all seek, partially in his brilliance — because he knows that it is all beautiful and senseless, and so his eyes close — and partially in his own sadness and loss, does he no longer wish to feel any of it.
And, I watch myself encouraging him to severe all karmic ties and to truly be free and yet, I ache in my own sadness and loss of one light, one friend, I truly love and connect with…. knowing he and I are so deeply the same…and not wanting to be alone in this world of confused and twisted paths of happiness.
My beautiful neighbor, squatted before me just a few hours ago… a young lab named Jake lying between us, and he fidgeting with a half smoked cigarette, wanting to light it, not wanting to … its February and 60 degrees and the wind was warm and stirring about and the beauty of the day was shattering me, and he told me he was not used to this ~ this maturity, this acceptance, my kindness, as he told me he was going back to his old girlfriend….
He was used to being yelled at, told to fuck off, books being thrown … and I again felt no judgment on him for loving her and going back to her, or for her throwing books and yelling, for I have been that person and easily could be again….
I could only sit and tell him of the Buddha with one eye crying and one eye laughing and how at some point, you experience so much loss that you end up laughing….
….and the words of the Rinpoche repeating in my heart…that all beings only want happiness, no matter how confused it may be…
….and his beautiful smile as I took refuge and he snipped off a bit of my hair, wishing me ‘good luck’…
Prepared for elephant journal by Braja Sorensen
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