Dön Season: Be Very, Very Afraid! ~ Eileen Malloy

Via elephant journal
on Feb 10, 2010
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Image: Boulder Shambhala http://boulder.shambhala.org/program-details/?id=249486

Update: Dön Season is January 29th to February 7th, 2016 with a “neutral” day on February 8th and Shambhala Day (the New Year) on February 9th, 2016. Year of the Fire Monkey!

Your Birds are Coming Home to Roost…

Well, not roost exactly, because nothing can truly roost in the non-material world, but during this time of year—known as Dön Season in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition—your karma will certainly fly by and sh*t on you in the most insulting way.

I’m all for the non-theistic understanding of all the infinite points of Dharma, but when it comes to Dön Season I revert to a strangely superstitious interpretation.

In one of the more memorable Don Seasons in my life, my car was totaled, I had a miscarriage, and my cell phone was lost.

Try as I might to avoid a heretical interpretation, the messages from the phenomenal world that are heightened and intensified in the 10 days before Losar (the lunar new year) seem to have a pointed, intelligent, and retributive tone during this brief but potent liturgical season.

I suspect that I am not alone in this. If you go by the war stories, many Buddhists secretly harbor a literalist interpretation of Don season. Each year the Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center, and usually Marpa House as well, host knowledgeable and erudite speakers to explain what the whole thing is about…yet still the voodoo stories persist. Don season, in the crudest terms, is the time of year when things go horribly wrong. It’s a reminder that when you are a f*ck-up, even a basically good f*ck-up, it has consequences. The seeds of negative karma that may not even have ripened for four, eight, or twelve lifetimes can suddenly actualize into disasters and calamities in a most immediate and painful way. To put it mildly, this is not the time to oversee groundbreaking ceremonies. Don season is the time of year to get on your knees—I mean (!) your meditation cushion, and supplicate.

And this we do, in a chant known colorfully as Pacifying the Turmoil of the Mamos.

The personification of the Mamos doesn’t help the confusion much. Superstition, mythology’s inbred cousin, is borne of trying to explain that which we don’t understand. And it isn’t easy to understand the Mamo chants. Who are the Mamos, these ghost-like troublemakers, and why are they throwing dice? Are they the good guys or the bad guys? It’s impossible to say, and perhaps that’s the point.

Good circumstances, bad circumstances? Let them all hurl you back to the path of Dharma. If you can’t wrap your mind around your own karma—and who can?—then let the attempt go and ride the energy of events as they arise. And mind your P’s and Q’s, because there is a process by which, unimpeded, those P’s and Q’s will align into a more or less incoherent message, unless you possess powers of seeing that are well beyond most of us.
So, suffice to say, they will always spell out the one thing that matters most: have some compassion for yourself and for others, because that is the only thing that makes any sense when a blizzard of karma shuts you down, if only for a day or two.

Image: Fire Monkey, Boulder Shambhala


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13 Responses to “Dön Season: Be Very, Very Afraid! ~ Eileen Malloy”

  1. Luke Aiken says:

    Wow. Dead on I say! Thanks Eileen for sharing your war stories. I think I'll hide under the bed until the season passes.

  2. Angelika says:

    Very interesting discussion of some of the more esoteric aspects of Buddhism. As it has been taught it is only for the enlightened minds to really understand the workings of karma.
    But really one of the more puzzling points : why does the retribution of karma intensify during Don season?? Or why do the birds come to roost right before the New Year?

  3. Greg says:

    On the one hand, I have the thought of greeting the roosting of good karma. But then I worry the bad karma might alight instead. Yesterday certainly felt like a karma dump. So I get caught in the middle with a frantic glance. Look up, look down. Look back, look forward. Smile. Frown. The only solution I can see is to get busy creating good karma so next year's delivery will be all roses. Happy New Year.

  4. Like Guest says, below, darkness before dawn? I see it as a sort of accumulated-dust-bunnies-of-our-karma season, the time right before the Cheerful New Year hits when it's good to lay low, meditate, be cozy with family, delay big decisions, clean house, and sit, sit, sit. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/05/elebuddhad

  5. Wow, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get something done.

  6. […] Dön Season: It’s Big Me vs Little Me! ~ Elaine Logan. […]

  7. […] end of a year is hard. From a Buddhist point of view, the last few weeks have been the hardest time of the year. Now, today, is the New Year—the year of the Water Dragon. There’s info about what that […]

  8. […] It’s called Dön Season. And it’s over, as of two days ago. […]

  9. Lavada says:

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  10. Euuusi says:

    Hmmm, so I came to this article from another one on the same topic, where I learned that we are just about to enter the year of the wooden horse. Now I read here that it will be the year of the fire monkey… Not that I would know the difference; this is all pretty new to me.
    Well, what I take away from all these articles on the topic (which also include different dates on when Don actually happens, so I take it as a general reminder): to continue paying attention to being mindful, present, kind and generous. – Side note: while I appreciate the information in the article, I don't know how helpful the (fear-mongering) title is….

  11. Jake says:

    Wow. I had a week with some unique struggles, and if I reflect, I can see how they could be karmically-related. I'm very new to understanding all of this but this was very informative, thank you!