I had not published anything to my blog in 2015 and right at this moment, I feel that I want to add some of the unpublished writings, and perhaps some images from this year, before it ends. Overall, it’s been a hard year, not bad, just powerful and intense. Perhaps this is why I could not make myself do one more thing. Perhaps it was fear, laziness. Maybe even a combination of all these… I am not really sure. But this has been the year of voluntarily putting myself on the spot in many ways, as if to say: Wake up!! The world needs you to be awake…!! And there were also many things that simply came my way, like most things in life, as if for me to learn to stay as grounded as possible with anything and everything. Perfect training ground life is!!! (A Yoda moment.)
Here are some of my year’s highlights: This is my second year as a teacher in a different school district; I declared bankruptcy in the first quarter of the year; I moved to a new apartment a week or so before the end of last school year (May 2015); I started working out in June; went to Maine and Canada; I became a Vajrayana student on my path; I have continued editing as a freelancer; I started playing the guitar and getting my voice more or less ready to sing again; I have made new friends and reconnected with old ones…
I guess 2015 has been the year where in many ways I’ve begun opening my heart again. The thing is, that once one of my heart’s doors open, other doors open as well…feelings arise, and my path becomes clear: the task is to remain as soft and as open as possible, while participating fully in my world(s) at the same time. And to my amazement, somehow more seems to fit in this heart-mind of mine than I ever thought possible: love, falling in love, tiredness, creativity. And I am grateful.
I am grateful to my Guru-teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche; to all my teachers, whether obviously Buddhist or not; to the teachings…
So I’ll start uploading to my blog sites some of the pieces, notes, poems, photos I have from this year.
|Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.|
Many years without truly sharing my poetry with anybody, due to fears…the poetry writing muscles have become rusty at best. Poems used to be almost a way of speaking between me and many of my friends, and I consider myself lucky to have had friends for whom this was also true. I started writing in the D.R. around the time when I was 13. I slowly stopped after my return to the US, after completing Peace Corps service. The voice died.
I didn’t want to speak/write anymore and hear myself mostly bitter, angry…I didn’t want my feelings/thoughts to be corrected because I wrote with an accent. But I guess, more than anything, I didn’t want to experience the cold silence of someone reading the words that had come from my heart, and having nothing to say to me, or worse, nothing to share. It felt very lonely…I had seemingly landed in an environment (academia) within a culture where words related to feelings were considered sappy, mushy, non-accurate, weak
However, my own silence is apparently meant to be broken, or at least be punctured by whispers from this heart perhaps poorly carried by these words.
[Written during the Harvest of Peace celebration…a rusty effort perhaps, but a sincere feeling…I guess, this speaks to a kind of yearning…I was afraid of sharing this poem…therefore, here it is.]
O Teacher come and let me know that it is your voice that I hear.
Teach me to listen to all of life as carrying the whisper of the Teachings,
the comfort to all my tears.
O Teacher come…I am foolish and I am blind.
With this human, frail and mortal body possessed just by human sight
I can’t always tell the difference between the shadows and the Light.
O Teacher come…
Let me feel the smell of fire and water, wind and sand…
Let me sense your presence in decay, rocks, wood and rust…
Help me know that with these scents, your sweet perfume is close behind…
O Teacher come as lover, teacher, healer, food and wine.
Let me taste your lips, kiss your feet,
embrace the body though which the Dharma courses,
the Mirror through which all perceptions change
And without worldly efforts, become Divine.
So I sit. First Monday after school ended. I should not feel overwhelmed, but I do. I hear the ever-defensive-offensive-aggressive voices of Ego screaming at me when I stop to just “be”; and while I am doing something such as reading or writing, Ego seems to be always speaking quietly, muttering behind my back, as if it wanted me to make an effort to listen to it.
By Friday when I handed my keys and badge to the school where I currently work, I was feeling very tired, feverish, run down and with a very sore throat. By Saturday and Sunday, more of the same. But I went out and took care of various odds and ends welcoming the distractions that keeping busy provides, while at the same time wanting to be home resting. To clarify: I am aware that I both wanted and did not want the distraction, the busy-ness.
Yesterday was Monday and again I spent most of the day out running errands. I went to renew my passport, get my prescription for my glasses, buy food… My body and my back, hurt. I wanted to “stop”…to rest for a while, but whenever I tried to consciously breathe even for some minutes, I would remember more things that I had not completed or had done poorly, the running list of “bads” would seemingly get louder.
And then I got together with friends to study the Dharma in preparation for ESA. I “see” how inadequate I feel next to them, when Ego compares itself to them: I have been angry at myself for getting old; for needing glasses to read; for having to check my eyes for Glaucoma; for not eating right; for having wrinkles; for not being in shape; for not exercising; for panicking; for not having money; for not knowing how to celebrate Camila’s birthday this year; for not being able to make peace with my brother; for not having been back to the Dominican republic in so many years; for feeling overwhelmed with work; for feeling that I have to take every freelance that comes my way in order to make ends meet; for thinking that I have no right to go to ESA or Warrior Assembly because I am not seasoned enough; for wanting the distractions to take me so that I don’t feel so tightly pulled in so many directions; for feeling overwhelmed by too much thinking and not exercising the “simplicity” of just being…
And then the echo of the “shoulds” kicks in again: you are a Dharma student, you should be able to do more; stop complaining, What kind of warrior are you?; so, why did you become a Buddhist? Don’t you dare “speak” of any of this and bring others down with your boring litany of complaints that have no substance to them…and on and on it goes. When my brother and I were little my mother used to tell us (and would actually do this) : Si sigues haciendo eso, te vas a caer. Y si te caes, encima de la caída te voy a pegar… (Translation: If you keep doing that, you’re gonna fall. And if you fall, I will spank you on top of it…”). So who needs her to be so punishing when my Ego seems to have perfected the aggressive tendency?
It seems that I have always had an adversarial relation with my sane heart/mind. On the one hand I hear/feel its softer voice coaxing me to slow down and just trust life. On the other, my EGO all too frequently believes that that desire to slow down is laziness; and as a lazy person, I can not be allowed to relax, and just be; laziness is to be insulted, and punished.
Wanting there to be another now? Yes… I see now that not allowing myself to write, nor to share with others what I had written and/or truly felt, was and has been one of my EGO’s main ways of cocooning itself. But in spite of my feelings of being overwhelmed, I also recognize that there is a lot of tenderness, and heart, in the threads used by Ego-Monkey-Brain… Not all is lost in the knots used to construct the cocoon. In fact, as I really slow down, and allow myself to see/feel/listen, I can sigh and say: There it is, it is all pure and unadulterated nothingness, a brief whiff of Shunyata. The dot. Rest.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Last night I created my first blog in WordPress, but I kept it private for a while. I had been thinking for a while about having / writing a blog in which I would share some of my experiences as a beginning Shambhala Buddhist, and a meditator. Since I started visiting the Austin Shambhala Center I have written entries in my ongoing journals from the perspective of a Baby Buddha; that is to say, a total beginner in voicing and recognizing the seed of goodness in myself and others. There have been both prose and poetry entries written in the handwritten versions of From the Desk of Baby Buddha, but I had only shared a couple of these with very few people. I have been afraid. I still am. Perhaps I will describe my fears of writing at a later time, in another entry. For now, suffice it to say that I have been afraid.
Since 2007 when I started visiting the Austin Shambhala Center, I have felt both welcome and encouraged by my teachers, friends and/or Sangha brothers and sisters to be there “as I am”; and to be as genuine and open at every moment as I was ready to be. They seemed to want me there regardless of “how messed up I was”. And for this reason and since then, I have wished to somehow repay the kindness, generosity, patience and gentleness that they have shared with me and which they keep on sharing. I consider myself lucky to have been welcomed there at a time when I truly needed help. And perhaps more of this will also be shared in a future entry.
For now, let me just say that I had been thinking about having / keeping a Blog since last year (2011) or the year before when I helped the partner with whom I had lived for the past 11 years, with research on how to create his own blog. As I was digging in books and the Internet in order to help him, I started thinking-feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, I could have a blog as well. It was an intriguing idea. I thought of a blog as a way in which I could extend myself to the Sangha and the Dharma who have given me so much, and also as a way in which I could contribute to the growth of Baby Buddha, the seed of buddhahood ever-present, yet not always acknowledged nor felt by all of us, especially by us beginners. It seems to me that while there are many wonderful texts written by masters, I had not found many texts describing the experiences of beginners from a beginners point of view. I believe such texts could be helpful. And it is in the spirit or hope that this can somehow be of help without causing harm, that I now offer these Blog entries.
However, many months passed before I actually contemplated the possibility of blogging again. Two or three weeks ago in December 2011, a woman from El Salvador made it to the Sangha retreat at our center. I am not quite sure why, but I addressed her in Spanish, as if I had known that she could answer: —¿De dónde eres?, I asked her. I believe she was surprised to be addressed in Spanish. And that was not the only “surprise” we would share that day. She had showed up at our doorstep, and registered to attend the retreat, after having left her home that morning in order to attend a program taught at a Zen Center she had visited before. Somehow, our place looked a little different from how she remembered the Zen center, but it felt right to her, so she decided to stay. Not only did she stay that day but she returned the next day. I felt like she was a friend I had not seen in a long time, and with whom I wanted to catch up. We talked, and talked, and talked… She told me she was a life-coach and a writer, and when I told her that I used to write poetry, stories and personal reflections, the “used to write” did not quite register with her, and she asked me if I had a Blog, if my writing had been published. She said she wanted to read what I had to say. And I felt strange when I told her that my writing had not been published; that I had willingly choked my own writing voice, because I wanted it to express something positive, and that I have for many years been embarrassed by the “accent” with which I both speak and write. And there I was, confessing some of my fears and personal hang-ups to someone I had just met.
On and off we’ve continued to talk about writing, healing and finding ways to express our wishes for personal and human growth. She offered to help me find ways to blog, and she encouraged me to open myself to writing as a way of sharing with others. And thus it was, that a week or two later when we met again, to talk about the possibility of translating her material into English we also talked about blogging. According to her, the best way for me to start would be to explore WordPress.com™. I smiled. I felt her suggestion as another auspicious coincidence, or an expression of our basic goodness. This had been the program that I had concluded would be best for Gerard to use in order to write his blog. Her recommendation gave me a sense of completion, and also of a new beginning, and I promised myself that I would look into it that very week. And I did!
I don’t know why I am finding it so difficult to write this first post on my blog. I stare at the blank space, and all I can sense is fear. So, I guess I should start where I am, right here, right now… I breathe. Perhaps I fear seeing or hearing the accent of my written and spoken voice. Perhaps, I fear that my words may cause harm.
But now that I feel again my human heart as it opens and closes, as it beats to the rhythm of its own humanity, the seemingly dense veil that had gradually covered my eyes, my ears and my mind has begun to melt. And I find that I want to share this heart as best I can with those around me. So here I am, at the page.