Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Offering

The Core of Practice

"The core of Buddhist practice is the transformation of suffering (dukkha) and its roots into wisdom and compassion. As the Buddha pointed out, we all experience physical and emotional pain. We all get sick, lose people we love, and each of us will die. Our practice is not to try to get rid of this pain, which would be impossible. Rather, it is to avoid constricting around our pain, or blaming ourselves or others for it, or lashing out when we feel attacked-somehow believing that by so doing we will get rid of or resolve the initial hurt.

This cycle of reactivity is called suffering. The task of our practice is to transform such reactivity and the greed, hatred, and delusion that fuel it. It is to realize that it is possible to experience pain without suffering, without passing on the pain to ourselves or others."

-From Donald Rothberg, "Present Moment, Urgent Moment" tricycle, (Fall 2004)

There are so many I would be willing to sacrifice for. There are so many others I can barely tolerate. I search through my soul and must confess that I do not find it in me to love everyone. I am simply not built right for the notion of universal love, of agape. I do better with the part of love that is called compassion. I can wrap myself around that and feel fairly sure I am not disguising pity. I am fairly sure I am not aiming at some kind of codependent overprotection or something. Love your enemy as yourself. This is not possible for me. I can however show mercy.

There is a man in my local circle. I have had trouble with him for years. I cannot seem to express myself in a way that he doesn’t take offence. He usually goes away and stews awhile. He carries a grudge. In my last real conversation, it ended with him informing me that I had judged his ability to choose his investments wisely. What he was talking about was at least a decade old. I really don’t remember. He never brought it up until a few weeks ago. I am amazed that his stuff lasts that long, amazed that he is that touchy about such a subject, when, if I was in that area with him, I am sure I was joking or at least light hearted in my intention.

I cannot love this man, not after at least fifteen years of this crap. I have known him for most of twenty seven years. It is best for me to hold my distance peacefully and wish him well from there.

Situations like this give me the signal of how far I have to go. If I am to get out of here with a little added elevation, then there is much work to do. I follow the Bodhisattva ideal. The only hope I have for coming close to that ideal, I throw myself on God’s lap in a radical way and work with His Presence and Power. There is no other way open to me. I am starting too far back in my own rebellious spirit.

The Offering

I shall offer for
the moment, for you, golden
petals joined by stem
and scarlet center
by count fifteen and five more
all a dream, a song
calling you from pain,
from the chemistry, the ache
of your emptiness.

April 23, 2009 1:18 PM


  1. Sometimes I look into a flower and just stay there, trapped, for a good long while XXX

  2. Your writing enlightning and beautifully honest.
    the poem...

  3. Your self-awareness sets you apart from most people, who live their lives without ever a thought such as these.

  4. Perhaps there are more people trying to live this way than it seems. I wish that I were able to paint myself elevated in some way or more successful in life because I am so wise or some such measure of accomplishment.

    Instead what I must write of is recovery, of getting back to even, of saving my life. These wise thoughts, all they do is help me live in the world without taking a drink, and without trashing my life in other ways. That is what I mean when I say there are more than you think who live this way, because driven by the lash of alcohol and drugs and gambling and sex and overeating and some other addictive problems, people who attempt the twelve step lifestyle all tend to end up more aware and all who are successful behave more like me than not.

  5. I've always been a bit tickled m by the expression 'God botherer'. At first I thought it was a person who bothered other people about God, but then I realised it could as easily be someone who persistently bothered God with their concerns. I think to try too hard, in order to be a better or more holy person, or someone's idea of one, fussing and casigating oneself to love a person like this rancorous man is in some sense, bothering God, making a fuss about something not very important, to get God to like you more! I really don't think it can be the point, might even be very wrong, or like picking at a scab...

    The poem, and the compassion it contains, is beautiful.

  6. Lucy, I love it when you do the Brit thing..."rancorous", what a lovely and precise word that I know but now well enough to use. It feels right in description and gives me the signal you got this man precisely. He is a very good man in a lot of ways and he is in service to his fellows. But with me and I might add several others, he is rancorous.

    A word that entered our language in the Middle English period from France, ultimately "rancere", Latin for "to stink". It still carries for me the upper class feel to it, the Norman French feel. When I check the dictionary, it apparently means more vehemence and active energy than I really want, but my instinctive feel for the word is so occasional that I do not pin on rancor the strength the Webster people did back when this dictionary was produced. Or maybe I do but with the gloss of civility.

    As for "bothering God", what an interesting take on things. It humanizes God to think of Him having that sort of concern, doesn't it? I have thought these sorts of rules are more for character development (civility) than for saving God's feelings. Bothering God is probably a bad habit that leads at worst to a failure to mature.

    On the other hand, I have long felt that the object of this whole life can only be to generate autonomy, that God desires companion creators, a fellowship of peers in some way. Friendship and love among grown ups allows for dependency between them when necessary but also the distance that permits full autonomous expression. Thus "bothering God" is contraindicated.

    Thank you for your compliment, my friend. I hope you are having glorious spring days. We are here.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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