Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mourning Austin.

Okay, sorry if you’re averse to this type of thing, but I’m gonna get all Buddhist on your ass. As you know, I’m a big fan of the writing of Pema Chodron. I want to share this short passage because it’s the gist of everything she teaches. Since I discovered this particular brand of Buddhism about 9 years ago, these are the words I have tried to live by:

Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word that means “noble or awakened heart.” Just as butter is inherent in milk and oil is inherent in a sesame seed, the soft spot of bodhicitta is inherent in you and me. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love. No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart of bodhicitta cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred and completely whole.

It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhicitta that heals. When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself. Bodhicitta is also equated, in part, with compassion -- our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. Based on a deep fear of being hurt, we erect protective walls made out of strategies, opinions, prejudices, and emotions. Yet just as a jewel that has been buried in the earth for a million years is not discolored or harmed, in the same way this noble heart is not affected by all of the ways we try to protect ourselves from it. The jewel can be brought out into the light at any time, and it will glow as brilliantly as if nothing had ever happened.

This tenderness for life, bodhicitta, awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others. We train in the bodhicitta practices in order to become so open that we can take the pain of the world in, let it touch our hearts, and turn it into compassion.


My internet connection was down for a couple days. I got lots of reading done. Imagine! I finished Man in the Holocene, the Max Frisch novella that T is looking at for inspiration for a new theater piece. Not a direct adaptation, but he’d like to collaborate on new work using some ideas in the story. It’s kind of all about memory and aging -- right up my alley lately.

And I started a novel called Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, who is apparently a popular writer of futuristic fantasy-type books, so no surprise that I’ve never heard of it or him. I’m enjoying it so far. Very fast-moving.


J had a big party here on Sunday, I think the purpose of which was to show everyone the progress on the container house. The floor is all built but not much in the way of walls, so it was a great party space. It hasn't been too crazy hot in the evenings lately, and there's a nice breeze. My time now with friends here feels elegiac. People tell me they're sad that I'm leaving. I can't say that I'm exactly sad to be leaving, but I am sad that I had high hopes that were unfulfilled here. I regret so much.

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