“The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.”~ Yoda
Do you think Yoda was a Buddhist? Because my boy is so onto it here.
The jedi master has his hands firmly around the concept of grasping; letting go of desires, wishing well for others before self, is huge, like King Kong in a bagel shop huge. I am so not there, but I can glimpse it from here.
Bodhisattvas do it as a way to attain selflessness; I mean wishing well for others above self, not “it.” (This is an article, not a bumper sticker—get your mind out of the gutter.)
When he told us that to lead a pure life, we must count nothing as our own in the midst of abundance, the Buddha may have been one bar stool away from Yoda, if that’s the metaphor I’m after.
For some reason, its easy for me to get that when I look at trees.
People think, we agree, in fact, that some of us own trees. What a huge big fat pretentious lie. (But my iPhone? So mine. Don’t even try it, mister. Step away sloooowly.)
Pema Chodron says we can practice generosity in order to learn generosity.
Apparently, giving is one of those things you get good at by doing, like drumming or speed skating—or throwing bricks through windows.
Maybe that last one is a bad example.
We give to learn to give. Every act is an act of self definition, right?
But I’m afraid of losing my fear of loss. Really, I am. (I discovered that recently, over a six-day retreat at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, in Woodstock. Highly recommended.) My self absorption, my desire to be pleasing to others, my nonstop clamoring for attention: I am holding onto all of them like a monkey with a banana inside a fist knot trap. If such traps exist.
Try this: I’m holding onto them like Grandma Hilda “The Claw” Saliter, who would snatch your hand like it was a live goat that might run for the hills if she gave it so much as an inch. (Stick around, I’ll sub-reference again later.)
I find that at the root of this clinging is fear. Fear of the loss of identity. Who wants to let go into the emptiness and luminosity, when there are 2011 taxes to be filed? Is sublime non-conceptual essence going to get the laundry done?
This clinging shows up most apparently when my butt hits the cushion, and the trick show begins. Suddenly, it is urgent to get up really quick and say, set the meditation timer. Or a brilliant, critical email that must go, right now, creates itself from nothing on the internal puppet stage.
My cutest, lately? Random itches. Maddening. It is all, it turns out, ego safety mechanisms: rooted in fear of letting go of self.
11 of the 37 vows of a Bodhisattva:
All suffering comes from wanting your own happiness.
Complete awakening arises from the intention to help others.
So, exchange completely your happiness
For the suffering of others—this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Well, there you have it, and Yoda said it first. I mean, depending on when Star Wars happened; it’s not like I research these articles.
So from clinging and grasping rooted in fear and ego, where to go but to the ultimate letting go?
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
I am down with this 100% because I’ve always thought death is just nature’s way of killing you. There is nothing about death that I fear; except dying. I mean, fear around say, your death—of my ex landlord’s? Nada. Certain deaths I have no problem with at all.
So I’m part way there, by definition.
It might be wiser to defer on this topic to more Yodalike thinkers. The Buddha said that even death is not to be feared by those who have lived wisely. Which rules out what, 98% of us? I’m shaking in my boots here, clinging like the aforementioned handgoatsnatching claw.
“If you have got to think about something—
Make it the uncertainty of the hour of your death.”
~ Gyalse Rinpoche
I do try to do this, but sometimes, when I think about death, its as if I’m pondering the ending of life. I have no idea why that is. But Yoda and the Rinpoches do seem to be holding the same light saber.
“Whatever we have done with our lives makes us what we are when we die. And everything, absolutely everything, counts.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoche
(Jesus, though—does this mean that the time I sprayed the bingo ink all over the walls in Catholic School counts? They made me clean it, which was impossible, so that should atone for part of it…right?)
Not irrelevantly, when Yoda talks about greed up there, he touches on what was for me the grand finale in one of the great spiritual books, Touched By Fire by Pandit Tigunait. I’ve written this out hundreds of times.
“Greed is the mother of all misery!”
I love it and there has been no time ever, when I was aware enough to check and see, that I could not trace my upset back to greed. The more astute among you will see instantly that this can easily be caused by me never being aware enough to attempt said trace, but the hell with you, intellectual snobs.
“To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”
I am so a candle, given the two choices; I mean what a no-brainer. Being the night would be seriously tedious, don’t you think? For further listening on this choice, I refer you to The Hiders, Valentine, or to anything, free, from dharma seeds.
What I believe Yoda is pointing to here is the same thing my main man the DL (Dalai Lama) rolled out for us some time ago: “Whenever possible, be kind. It is always possible.”
10 of the 37 vows of a Bodhisattva:
To free limitless sentient beings,
Give rise to awakening mind—this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
“To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.” ~ Yoda
20 of the 37 vows of a Bodhisattva:
If you don’t subdue the opponent inside, your own anger,
Although you subdue opponents outside, they just keep coming.
Muster the forces of loving kindness and compassion
And subdue your own mind—this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
12 of the 37 vows of a Bodhisattva:
Even if someone, driven by desperate want,
Steals, or makes someone else steal, everything you own,
Dedicate to him your body, your wealth, and
All the good you’ve ever done or will do — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
“Always in motion the future is.” ~ Yoda
The Buddha tells us that life can be compared to a flash of lightening. We are temporally minute. Tiny. Small, in the scope of time. Impermanence is the water we swim in, our efforts to nail things down in this life are like so much trying to tape paper onto water. We are less on a stone, more leaves in a stream.
“You must unlearn what you have learned.” ~ Yoda
This is the perfect quote to finish. It puts me at a massive advantage, as I know so very little about this subject.
So let the record show you’ve been on a boat with an untrained seaman here, and if you don’t believe me, take it from anyone who has ever sailed with me. They say to write what you know. I tried that for awhile, but then I decided to write again.
Sometimes, I swear I have no concept of non-conceptuality. But I try. I happily fail miserably, and when I am not pretending, I’m very honest about my shortcomings.
I also have the best lover in the world and she keeps me nicely grounded:
“The challenge is to stay alive. Messily, brokenly, as real sweat and blood people. I don’t believe the healing/enlightenment stuff so much. Christ, look at you.”
God, I love that woman. She looks nothing like Yoda, for the record.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise