“The more and more you listen, the more and more you hear. The more and more you hear, the deeper and deeper your understanding becomes.” ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
As I leaf through my old journals from 2010 and 2011, I notice how much has my life has changed, and in many ways improved, over the past several years.
Sometimes it’s challenging to read through the diaries because they show me the stark reality of how intensely neurotic, insecure, and obsessive I was.
Yet last week’s full moon eclipse in Leo really did a number on me, and it still is.
I have been delving into new material, gaining new perspectives, and shifting paradigms—slightly, almost imperceptibly. Right now, for many of us, there is a lot to be processed, digested, reflected upon, and slowly understood. It is good, but it is not easy.
I’m a bit sheltered from the present political sh*tstorm in the United States of America due to living south of its border and consciously limiting the amount of news articles I consume. Nevertheless, my heart goes out to all the folks suffering from anxiety, depression and the like, much of it the direct result of the new administration’s fear mongering and illegal, immoral abuse of power. I remember, all too clearly, feeling this way in 2004, when G.W. Bush was re-elected, which now pales in comparison to the current conundrum.
I recently rewatched Groundhog Day, the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray. In this film, the main character wakes up every day on the same, freezing morning of February second, finding himself in the hell realm of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At first, he is confused (How is this happening? Why isn’t anyone else in the movie being similarly affected?), then freaked out, and desperate (attempting suicide in a variety of ways, to no avail), then manipulative (learning the backstories of the townspeople and his coworkers, with the primary aim of getting into the pants of the character played by Andie MacDowell), until he ultimately surrenders. When he finally lets go of his ego and authentically strives to help others, the next day comes.
Lately, I have been feeling as if every day and every week are the same. I wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep for hours, sometimes resting anyway. Sometimes, like now, I get up to read and write. At some point, my eyelids droop with exhaustion, and I go back to bed. I rise again as the sun rises, and my four-year-old girl makes a sour face at me when I kiss her good morning. A few minutes later, she is in a better mood, back to her sweet and cuddly little self. I plop down on the sunny balcony to sit and breathe. My fabulous black cat, Oscar, curls up in my lap, prompting me to stay a little longer. (He is a feline Zen master.)
So, here I sit, listening to the birds and breathing, starting with a grateful heart. I send loving kindness to my aging parents and grandmothers, my beloved partner, daughter, myself, friends, family, water protectors, and acquaintances.
I think of the wise words a friend posted on Facebook last month, along with a headshot of the 45th President of the United States.
Can you love this man?
Can you feel compassion toward this man?
The challenge: I suggest that those of us who claim to be Christians, or adherents of Buddhist philosophy, pray for him, or hold him in our good intentions, in the light. Otherwise, we are really not who we pretend we are.
I try, and fail, to send metta to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his newly-appointed cabinet of leaders, with whom I disagree. I try to say this, but cannot force myself to genuinely feel it: May you be safe, happy, healthy, and free.
Universal compassion is put on hold. Like all things, it has to unfold in its own time, organically.
I step away from my meditation cushion and delve into the informal practice of the rest of the day. I eat some papaya, pour a cup of tea, settle in, open my computer, and get to work.
Like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, it gradually dawns on me that getting out of my own head and caring about and helping others is the way to freedom from the mundane. It is the path and the goal.
So, I write, in loopy, messy cursive: endless checklists, poetic stanzas, love letters and random streams of consciousness, as therapy. I publish a blog and attempt to connect my heart to yours, for this one precious moment. I read and feel an immense and simple gladness that the words on the page make sense.
I feel grateful that my old diaries deliver little gems of wisdom, written down so many years ago, like this one:
“Just as the ocean has waves or the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is its thoughts and emotions. The ocean has waves, yet the ocean is not particularly disturbed by them. The waves are the very nature of the ocean.
Waves will rise, but where do they go? Back into the ocean. And where do those waves come from? The ocean. Thoughts and emotions rise from the mind, but where do they dissolve? Back into the mind.
Whatever rises, do not see it as a particular problem. If you do not impulsively react, if you are only patient, it will settle once again into its essential nature.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
May every moment and experience wake us up and be of benefit.
Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Image: Flickr/Erin Kohlenberg
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock