Monday, November 29, 2010

Got Guiltlessness?

"... even though you make a lot of mistakes and you mess up in all kinds of ways, all of that is impermanent and shifting and changing and temporary. But fundamentally, your mind and heart are not guilty. They are innocent."  
Pema Chodron did an interview with Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche in 2004.  She asked him as a senior Tibetan dharma teacher who has been living in the west for some time, what he thought was the most important piece of advice he could give to western dharma practitioners.   He said they need to understand guiltlessness.   

She said, "Guiltlessness?"

And you see his reply above.  Pema goes on to write: "So guiltlessness is very important in the subject of dissolving or burning up the seeds of aggression in our own hearts and our own minds.  Most of the striking out at other people, for us in this culture, comes from feeling bad about ourselves. It makes us so wretched and so uncomfortable that it sets off the chain reaction of trying to get away from that feeling." 

I found this on Pema Chodron's Facebook page, in a post from 2009 entitled Vast Blue Sky.  It is an excerpt from her dharma talk, Practicing Peace in Times of War, published by Shambhala Press.  For more of Pema's interview with Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, click this link:,0

And let me leave you with this further quote-- Pema quoting Rick Fields, a poet and buddhist teacher whom I just discovered was also a fellow traveller on this path with cancer.  (Evidently before he died in '99 he put out a limited edition called Fuck You Cancer and Other Poems, which I would love to get my hands on.)  Anyway here is the quote:

Behind the hardness there is fear
And if you touch the heart of the fear
You find sadness (it sort of gets more and more tender)
And if you touch the sadness
You find the vast blue sky

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hello, Out There

Okay, yes, it has been a while.  I have been feeling better and doing more which can lead to less contemplation and thus less writing for the likes of me.  So in that respect, no news has been good news.

I have also been in a bit of a tussle with a couple of issues vis-a-vis this whole blog thing:  First, what is appropriate to share here with you all and what I might more fruitfully or skillfully keep to myself?  As you who know and love me recognize, my instinct is to kinda lay it all out there, but if I what I really want is to be of service to both myself and others,  discretion may indeed be the better part of valor (as my both my mom and, more famously, Shakespeare said).  And discretion is, uh, not my strong suit, shall we say?  So I gotta chew on that a bit.  I don't want to blurt, I want to communicate.

There are other, more craft-related questions:  If this is a blog exploring my personal journey with cancer and  spirit, do I tell you about my family at the beach?  Do I address that only in terms related to the afore -mentioned topics?  Do you really wanna see pictures of my beloved dog?  That kind of thing...

And what about other people's privacy?  I am increasingly aware that while this can be a very lonely path, I am not alone.  My words and actions effect other people, and not always in the way I intend. 

Add to this stew the fact that my mortality, after being dangled so brazenly my face appears to be  suddenly -- woosh!-- back on the shelf of inevitable, yes, but imminent? Maybe, maybe not.

There has been no new normal for the last 5 months (or truthfully maybe year and a half?) of my life.  So when the roller coaster seems to have come to a resting point, it is understandable that I have trouble releasing my grip on the idea that my world will again fall away from underneath me any second now.  Maybe especially because that very lesson --impermanence, baby!-- has proven so precious to me.

Now it looks like I may have to deal with the fact that I might just have a new normal, at least for a while.  Maybe even for long enough to once again be in the position of contemplating how to get a paying gig...  Gosh, and I thought contemplating death was scary!

Who was it that said, "Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard"?  Being an artist in a down economy during late capitalism,  now, that's hard.  (Not to mention it being a tragedy as well as a comedy...)

So.  That's where I am.  I am thankful for all of you who care enough to check in here on me.  And wish you all the best as the snowy season descends upon us.  I'll be in touch, soon.  Promise.