As my pen meets the paper I am not really sure what I have to say. Although I have topics of people, places and things that are the basis of emotions that control me at the present. However, I feel that there is something deeper involved in the melancholy that is my companion. There is an underlying facet that hones the sadness which is the sum of my existence.
Maybe this is a proclamation to the world or perhaps simply to myself. A diary? An editorial? Will it be read by the masses or will I just discard it as so much rubbish? Perhaps another tortured soul will be able to comprehend my discourse or maybe someone with an inkling of understanding will come and rescue me from my ignorance. In any event, I am sure that it is in the writing of this gibberish that I am to locate my medicine.
Like a fever, hot and cold, feelings course through my being. Stability is a myth.
I do not believe that there are any answers to life’s big questions. Maybe even the small queries are forever a stranger to the truth.
It seems that answers are actually just one’s opinion. Whether collective or independent, if the conclusion to the question is sufficient to smooth over the rough waves of the soul and mind, then the conclusion is deemed holy. Oh how we grasp at anything that might rationalize our glee. Or our sorrow.
I view the outside world through a minute pane of Plexiglas. I peer to the inside through the stained glass window of my soul. The distortion of either is variable.
I do not have to sleep to dream. Nor is slumber a necessity for nightmares.
I feel a sense of self that is overwhelming. Why am I so different? Why must I be so alone in my thoughts? At times I long for normalcy. At others I view their lives as sterile. They are prisoners of their complacency. Striving only to complete the day at hand, placing them 24 hours closer to death. In this aspect, perhaps we are the same.
Are we so incapable of expressing our true feelings that we would condemn those who would attempt such? Are we unable to communicate because of this ridicule or because we are afraid of ourselves? As we explore our feelings honestly we are capable of opening up a whole new world that would not only soften the heart but expand the mind. Yet, we substitute being cordial for being compassionate. We settle for intelligence over wisdom. Our neglect fails to recognize the difference.
My hate has been a safety mechanism devised by my battered ego. Oh, how easy it seemed to blame others for my own unworthiness. But my failures would not remain submersed. They would stubbornly become self-pity and my hate would point to the self that spawned it. I’ve hated the things that I could not have. Yet despised that which was easily gained. Possessions taken for granted, how I missed them when they were gone.
The white noise of my mind is all but deafening. Rambling, changing, screaming. Constantly changing. Stop! No peace, changing, changing, screaming … please stop!
Is our compassion real? Is it something that humanity countless eons ago was born with? Do we actually have the components for unconditional love within our genetic make-up? Is it deep rooted in our soul, or mind, or conscience, or whatever it is that directs us morally and ethically? Or perhaps a more likely answer is that we have created our compassion, our generosity in order to compensate for our past evil. Concern for our neighbors could merely be our way of balancing the scales in order that we may not feel so bad about ourselves. Does it not also express a level of superiority? That I would grant you this small act of kindness out of pity for the station you hold. That somehow your level of suffering places you at a rank that is beneath me. That I am physically, or emotionally, or mentally better than you because of the obstacles that have or have not been placed before us as individuals in this life. My opinion is not an answer. Your answer is not concrete. Either is satisfactory if no one else cares.
Who is the god that you worship? Do you envision the jewel in the lotus surfaced from the murky bottom of the pool? Is your higher power the money that you so desperately wish to gain and store only to realize that you can never bank enough? Perhaps you wistfully adore the amphetamine rushing through your veins as the sirens boom in your ears. Organized religion has failed to return us to the garden. Our expulsion from paradise appears to have been a capital sentence. Maybe we are the ones who have failed religion. In the name of Allah mass murder rains down from heaven. In the name of God and country the axis of evil will be destroyed. The chosen people rule the inhabitants of their land with an iron fist, with absolutely no compunction. Why? Because the Bible tells us so. Where is the love and forgiveness of Jesus? Where is the compassion and equanimity of Buddha? All I see is the wrath of God and the thunderbolt of Zeus. Through all of our prayer and technology we have yet to create a humanity that is humane.
My conscience screams. Delusioned enlightenment leads to despair. Death can not be found but it is never far away. Mortality is reborn to create more misery. We search frantically for a cure to the disease we have spawned. Satisfaction in the present is stifled by the future. The future is in turn destroyed by the shame of the past. Alone, I converse with myself.
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.