Today, after walking out of a customer’s home, I got in my van and was prepared to leave. There, on the windshield, was a ladybug (not squashed, it had landed there while I was parked, and was still alive). Yeah, big deal right? Well this was no ordinary ladybug, this one was there to remind me of a quote I’ve been pondering alot lately. And that quote is…
“Never think that you will be able to settle your life down by practicing the Dharma. The Dharma is not therapy. In fact, it is just the opposite. The purpose of the Dharma is to really stir up your life. It is meant to turn your life upside down. If that is what you asked for, why complain? If it is not turning your life upside down, on the other hand, the Dharma is not working. That kind of Dharma is just another one of these New Age methods; the Dharma should really disturb you.”
– Dzonsar Khyentse Rinpoche, from “Entrance to the Great Perfection”
I’m not superstitious, but today being Friday the 13th (woooo) I saw it as an “omen” of sorts. In the way that, I should constantly be reminding myself that this whole Dharma thing is not some fluffy cloud, not some beautiful path lined with scented flowers.
It’s not an easy sprint down Penny Lane, it’s a damned marathon. And, we’re not talking some newly paved road here, this shit if full of potholes, there are hairpin turns galore. At least, that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be.
From what I understand, please do not take this the wrong way, but if your practice is easy you’re doing it wrong. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve been told. There are times, all the time, when I feel I’m not doing it right, so don’t take these comments personally.
I question my practice all the time. I mean, cheese and rice, I get pissed at the drop of a hat sometimes. I don’t know why, as a matter of fact, before stepping a foot (even a toe) on this path I don’t think I even got this angry. I’m not talking punch and kick anger, more like an irritation and short fuse type. I know what it is, I reflect on the causes all the time. But, I don’t remember it being this bad, maybe I just didn’t notice because I wasn’t paying attention.
A recent example of something I’ve changed… I was driving on my route yesterday and saw a rather large snapping turtle crossing the road. Normally, I’d have swerved and driven right by. Not now, my world and thought process are not the same. I pulled over, took an orange safety cone out and placed it on the ground, grabbed a shovel and walked over to the turtle. No, my anger isn’t that bad, geez… I used the end of the shovel, the handle not the sharp part, to tap on the ground behind the turtle and get him moving. He was a bit mad at me, hissed a little, but after I told him to move along he got the idea and got out of the road.
The point is, like that ladybug on my windshield, my life to had been turned upside down. Sometimes I don’t like it, hell there are times I am ready to up and say eff it all, but it feels right. Down deep, I know this is right… down deep I know my life was meant for something more, not some pretentious destiny “meant to be” thing, but a feels right in my heart to be here, walking this path. It feels right to want the best for all beings, to want the best for those that walk the earth and wherever beings exist. It feels right to have my world upside down, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who wants to be standing upright anyway, silly primates! :P
[…] Precious Metal, a thought I find compelling right […]
Nate, I love your blog. I love how you speak about your life & Dharma. It inspires me & makes me feel less alone on this path.
I would never have called myself an angry person, but once I took Refuge & really got into practice, out came the anger & it surprised me. Over a period of 12 months I experienced memories of all the times throughout my life when I was nasty to someone, selfish, said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing. I saw myself in all my glory so to speak. These experiences removed any fantasy I had about myself. It didn’t make me depressed as I knew of the many times I had done just the opposite, being nice, kind, going out of my way for others, but it did give me insight into those times when I failed miserably. The outcome is that I don’t repeat that sort of self-cherishing behaviour (knowingly) & this has changed me for the better.
Dharma practice is an active, engaging process & although there have been times when I have felt like I have been put through the wringer, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keep writing for the benefit of us all.
Good stuff…. thank you.
Great post my friend. Practice is not easy and shouldnt be. it is there to teach us and help us grow so we can in turn benefit others. I remember when I first started prostrating to the 35 confessional buddhas, my very good friend told me.. “be ready for some hard times ahead”. at first i didnt understand what he was saying but soon i figured it out. You cant clear up some bad karma from the past with a soft sponge. You have to scrub the dirt away with grit and sandpaper.
You are on the right path. Keep stepping forward, but just keep in mind that sometimes you have to take a few steps back. If practice was easy everyone would do it. Taking the time to help that turtle brings a tear to my eye. You are further along than you think. My love and metta to you. Om a hung benzra guru pedme sidhi hung. _/|\_