An Observation

I’ve noticed a cycle permeating the Buddhist forum I’ve been a member of for just shy of a decade. At almost regular intervals, there is a clash of egos, a banning of the user or ragequitting by the user, and new users come in to take their places. There is almost always one new user who then tries to assert themselves as intellectually superior in their understanding of the Dharma OR is a self proclaimed “newbie” and proceeds to ask questions designed to either provoke arguments or is covert proselytising/witnessing.

I make these observations not as judging the management of the forum, but more as a realisation that no-one is close to the definition of Buddhist as defined by the Buddha himself. I really believe at this stage that the Buddha played the ultimate joke on humanity when he died. He left no set structure to help his followers when he died. Three months after the Buddha died, 500 “senior” Buddhists met and had a seven month long meeting (!) just to decide on how to teach the Dharma. 100 years later, 700 “senior” Buddhists met with the goal to revise and confirm the teachings. Naturally, there were disagreements and the result was the splintering of the teachings into two groups – Theravada and Mahayana. There were further “meetings” and splintering off. One source can be found HERE.

My point is not to “bag out” Buddhism or anything else. It is more of a wake up call to me. No path has a “pure” beginning. No path is The One True Way ™️. And anyone saying otherwise is deluded or just a liar. With this epiphany in mind, I go ahead on my spiritual journey with the understanding that I have a framework to guide me, but any UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) is not to be automatically discarded and I don’t have to justify it to anyone else on the same path as me.

And that’s pretty empowering.

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Religion VS Spirituality For Me

I was talking to my Mum about religion v spirituality last night and said that where I’m at is that religiously I’m Jewish, but spiritually I’m Buddhist if truth be told. I honestly feel my Buddhist practice makes me a better Jew and a better person in general. Through practising the Eightfold Noble path I’ve learnt to shift my perceptions of things and accept and work on my faults. I’m certainly not perfect – far from it – but I can accept where I fall short without equating it to being an inherently “bad” or unworthy person. I’m a pretty decent person, I just fuck up sometimes. I’ve also learnt that I don’t have to constantly “be” Jewish to have the right to identify as one. I think that has really hindered me in hindsight. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Jewish, I love my culture and the religion resonates within me, but I don’t have to be a walking Torah – I’m not a Rabbi or Rebbetzin. It’s ok for me to not be frum (ultra Orthodox), it won’t invalidate my Jewishness – that’s my birthright no matter what. I’ve also learnt – and most importantly I think, that I won’t lose or invalidate my Jewishness by embracing and celebrating the rest of my heritage. I’m so proud of my Scottish and Norse heritage and I think part of me felt that because I’ve had it all my life, whereas I only found my Jewishness as an adult, so I had to play “catch-up” and focusing on the Scot-Norse heritage would detract or invalidate my Jewishness. Once I let that go, I felt A LOT better about everything. FINALLY.
 
I have found that religion is an identity, while spirituality is who I am.
letting-go

 

Patience

I’m finding more and more during this recovery that patience is my number one trait being tested. I’ve never really been the most patient person in the world, and I’ve never been a very good patient when sick/injured. But it seems the more I travel down this Buddhist path, the more intense the testing of this particular trait has gotten.

I’ve never been a gamer. In fact, I detest gaming. I think it’s the biggest waste of time that anyone can indulge in. But it seems that I am largely in the minority when it comes to it. I don’t care if people game, as long as I don’t have to participate or watch it. Now, at this stage of my recovery, I’m confined to my bedroom due to mobility and pain issues. And that’s fine. It has allowed me to meditate for hours so I’m quite grateful for it. But I have three stepsons who LOVE to game. And today, it’s all I can hear. Usually I can tune it out and it doesn’t get too bad. But there’s this one particular YouTube channel they watch and it’s one of those idiots who narrate their gaming. I cannot comprehend why anyone would spend hours watching that shit, but hey different strokes right? The main issue I have with this YouTuber is his laugh is the most irritating sound ever uttered on this earth, and the dumb schmuck laughs at EVERYTHING. ALL. THE. TIME. So this is playing in the lounge room currently. So I’m now playing my radio and reminding myself that it’s not a big deal. It’s the pain making me sensitive to everything. But I really can’t wait to at least be mobile again.

A Thought..

I’ve chosen my recovery period to take some time off social media – well mainly Facebook, because lately everyone is just so negative and mean spirited. It’s been so draining on my psyche and own healing process.

But, I just saw a video that has really restored my faith in humanity. It was about a six year old boy who’s mission in life is to save shelter dogs and rehome them. And he has a phenomenal success rate. He saved 720 dogs alone last year. And it got me thinking about the latest glut of feel good videos I’ve seen online and a really good trend.

Children are leading the way in compassion and doing the right thing.

I have always firmly believed we have been undergoing a consciousness shift on this earth and it’s finally coming to the fore. Many people scoffed at me and called me a fluffy New Ager (I know, right?) but I stuck to my guns on this and I’m really glad I’ve got the privilege of seeing this in action. I’ve been so disappointed in humanity over the last couple of years, so it’s a blessing to see this change in action.

It’s also been the driving force behind my spiritual seeking. And I’m positive it’s why Buddhism is my way of life these days. When all is said and done, my underlying belief system is Buddhist. My cultural beliefs and lifestyle “decorate” it, my daily practises/rituals surround it, but when I break it all down to my core beliefs – it’s Buddhism. I wear many hats – we all do in this life – yet Buddhism is the hatstand that holds them all. And I really like that. And it works.

Update

It’s August and I’m still having issues with my ankle 😐 I’ve just had surgery to join the fracture with pins and a bone graft. The one thing this has given me is a renewed appreciation of meditation. Especially the Medicine Buddha Mantra.

I’ve been in a lot of pain since the operation and I spent the first night post-op repeating the mantra over and over for several hours. The nurses were very curious when they came upon me with my mala beads at all hours in the dark. But I found a rhythm to the chanting, lining up with the beeps of the machines in the room (I was sharing with three other women). I did fall asleep a few times out of exhaustion, but when I woke I immediately started the meditation again. I’m sure it helped (along with the pain medication of course).

However, the real test has been at home. I don’t have nursing staff, or an IV for instant pain relief. Sure I have the medications, but the pain is intense and the positioning in bed not as comfortable as in hospital. Twice I have broken down in tears as I feel I’m at my threshold. But, I remember that like everything else, this is temporary, tomorrow will be less painful than today, and the day after that, and the day after that. So I continue my medication regime and I count my mala:

Tayata om bhekandze bhekandze maha bhekandze randza samungate soha.

This too shall pass.

What’s The Most Irritating Thing In The World?

Being unable to scratch your foot while it’s in plaster.

Well, a camboot (more commonly known as a moonboot).  On Sunday (two days ago), I fractured my left ankle while playing soccer (but it was an awesome save – I am/was goalie). So needless to say, my soccer season is over, and I am now adjusting to life on crutches and the inability to use my left leg for some time – at least three months. To say it’s difficult is an understatement. I have to plan everything, even using the toilet 😐 But worse than that (and yes, worse than the itching I can’t reach) is the pain. It’s constant and relentless. A thudding pain in the bone itself, and just when I think it can’t get any worse, it proves me wrong with sudden, sharp stabbing pain all through my ankle and foot. I have a cocktail of painkillers and anti inflammatories, and I even set my watch to take them to keep the pain at bay. After all, I have to go back to work in two days and I need to have some pain tolerance built up.

I broke so many bones as a child, and never did it impede my life like now. Part of that I put down to the exuberance of youth, and the other part I believe is my mind blotting out the pain part of the memories. But as a forty something, it bloody hurts.I gave birth naturally, with a 13 hour labour and this hurts way more than that 😦 Or maybe I’m just a wuss. Anyway, while waiting for the ambulance on Sunday, I uttered the usual prayers of the injured (“God, please make the pain go away” and the ever popular “Oh God, oh God, OH GOD!!”). But after a while, I remembered to keep my breathing even or I would bring on an asthma attack, and then I’d really be screwed. While focusing on my breathing, I started to mentally say a mindfulness meditation chant by Thich Nhat Hanh;

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

I wasn’t smiling at all, I can tell you. But the rhythm of the mantra stuck in my head, and then I couldn’t stop it. It was on repeat over and over, and stayed on repeat till the paramedics got there. Once they got there and had to move me, sheer agony replaced everything and then I got the magic pen (Pethidine) and nothing mattered. Once in the ER, the pethidine started to wear off and I was in agony (thankfully I was still “stoned” when they x-rayed me). By default almost, I started chanting TNH’s mantra again. After a while I swapped to The Medicine Buddha’s mantra. While it didn’t obliterate the pain, it helped with it, along with the drugs the doctor intravenously administered after a while because they knew putting the camboot on would be sheer agony for me (and it was).

I’ve meditated regularly over the past two days to help in between taking painkillers. It feels weird because since I “hung up my mala beads” I haven’t meditated at all. But it was my default go to *shrugs* Guess a part of me is still buddhist-ish after all. Or old habits die hard 😛