I’ve been talking about the Pema Chodron book “When Things Fall Apart” lately, since I used my library card to borrow it accidently on purpose. Accidently because it was not a dust-mote-sized thought in my mind. On purpose because it was all I went to get. Reading it slowly has brought memories of information I had and used and cared about and don’t often bring up to mind except when it’s the right time, which now surely is. One of those memories lands on the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. Here’s my Cliff notes version – 1) Life is suffering; 2) This is the way of suffering; 3) There is an end to suffering; 4) This is the way to the end of suffering.
I’ve read this before and – again – known this before and it’s repeatedly noted through the “Fall Apart” book. This – grasping leads to suffering. Grasping for tangible things, for specific situations, grasping for events, grasping for a person. Mostly grasping to have “it” my way. Here’s a good, current example for me. I’m often not happy living in the house in which I live. There are things I like, but too often I feel dismissed. I feel, sometimes, like a trespasser. I feel left out. Now, no one has said to me, “You’re dismissed.” No one has proclaimed, “You’re trespassing.” But I feel those things, my Spidey senses all alert and on-call . Feeling left out is just them paying attention to me being clear I ain’t interested in their playgrounds. So I don’t like how it feels to live here and the not liking is the way of suffering. The Second Noble Truth. Life as an “if only”.
It’s funny. Last Friday I was on what I call the “high” bluff walk and on the last of four back and forth’s I realized I’d been thinking most of the time about the feelings noted above and some of the time about the ways I could make my room crazy cool and a hotbed of creativity. Some may call this schizophrenia. I know I did, while still on the path, and again at a corner table at the Pannikin coffee shop an hour later. In fact, there I had what would best clinically be described as a fucking meltdown – quietly to and with myself – and kind of flipped out and typed up on my phone a wildly deranged verbiage map of how I needed to be, and mentioned repeatedly I was sick of complaining and whining – absolutely, positively sick of it. Me hearing it and me subjecting others to it. Then I came back to my room and opened the Chodron book and almost immediately read, “In Tibetan there’s an interesting word: ‘ye tang che’. The ‘ye’ part means “totally, completely”, and the rest of it means “exhausted”. Altogether ‘ye tang che’ means totally tired out. We might say “totally fed up”. It describes a feeling of complete hopelessness, of completely giving up hope. This is an important point. This is the beginning of the beginning. Without giving up hope – that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be – we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”
Reading that gave me right then the distinct – and electric – sense of what my former mentor Dick M. was always saying to me – “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” Relaxing – like, seriously, chill Bro – with where and who I am, on what Pema calls “the middle way”, brings me to that Fourth Noble Truth – the way to the end of suffering. I’m nowhere near there today, this Friday. It’s a long, long road and it’s not likely I’ll have the time, in this life, to find myself at the end of it. If there is an end to it. The endless path. The middle way. The just shut the “f” up.
Did I wake up again today? Am I still here? Are there treasure maps all over the place? Am I watched over and cared for by a smiling Universe? Am I capable of at least making my way in baby steps toward that “middle way”? Is there gas in the car, can I get a burrito for dinner, did I jump in the ocean just yesterday, am I offered chances to do special things? Am I loved abundantly by so many? Yes, yes, and endless yes’s. So…….
Which “Truth” do I ask to dance an hour from now?