Mahayana – continued

I hadn’t finished Chapter 1’s summary. Here’s the unfinished outline from my last blog:

  • A Taste of Enlightenment (still not done)
  • Appreciation and Humor (still not done)
  • Developing Fearlessness (still not done)

A Taste of Enlightenment

  • When it comes to bodhichitta, the heart comes first.
  • We begin by developing a heart that is not set on advancing its own longevity, entertainment, or egotism. Really? Cuz, that’s the American way – pursuing our own wealth and well being, spending our hard earned cash on frivolous entertainment, and promoting our own brand of awesomeness whether entrepreneurial or as a candidate for someone else’s company – we’re required in this society to prove ourselves awesome all the time. So, to follow the path, just drop everything you think you know. It’s time to start over.
  • Look for the mind to suddenly click in and awaken on the spot
  • Shamatha (mindfulness)-vipashyana (awareness) is a process of training the heart.
    • Shamatha brings maitri. Maitri is a simple, kind attitude towards yourself.
    • Vipashyana brings karuna, a compassionate attitude towards others.
    • Joining together shamatha and vipashyana is the realization of bodhichitta
    • When concentration and awareness are working together, we may have a taste of what enlightenment might be.
  • When discursive mind ceases because the thoughts have been pacified and subjugated, there’s a gap. In this gap is the absolute, ideal state of mind – bodhichitta is reality.

Appreciation and Humor

  • Important principle of Mahayana: including others in your world
  • We have a problem with not appreciating ourselves fully – with not appreciating anything fully – it’s all fleeting
  • We have faculties to experience the world at its best but first we have to release our struggles and our searching – give up – relax – and realize that appreciation is growing – appreciation for the beauty of things just as they are
  • The main obstacle to bodhichitta is AGGRESSION (ha, imagine that? aggression no less!)
  • Bodhichitta is the absence of aggression; peace without reward; openness without feedback.
  • Childlike. Be like a child.
  • Give up the past.
  • Emphasis on working with what you have rather than what you will be.
  • Emphasis on letting go of hard-core beliefs and thoughts – be open because your sticking to what you think is right and true is an obstacle to developing bodhichitta.
  • Mahayana brings greater vision and greater action – begin to like the world around you – appreciation of yourself: maitri. Appreciation of those around you: compassion. Unless these two are working together, you’ll never see bodhichitta.

Developing Fearlessness

  • No longer afraid of being in samsara; not tired of samasara
  • Not planning to escape it
  • Willing to sacrifice yourself – to develop yourself and stay in samsara for the sake of others
  • Be fearless in developing your own strength and asceticism – patience and oh… this is a tough paragraph for me: “On the whole, the approach of Mahayana is one of not taking time off or looking for relief. You are not looking for a way to take a break, or to comfort yourself by running away from the challenge. You just stay put; you are on the spot. You stay with the pain or the discomfort, and you continue to carry on with exertion and the vision and joyousness of wakefulness.” 
  • Be honest and direct
  • Never let anyone down or let go of anybody to seek pleasure for your own sake
  • Be willing to get stuck in samsara – in the shit of other people
  • Notice your fears as they come up – work with them

Overall Notes on Chapter 1:

I like this book. I love the teachings. I want to keep it simple, digestible. Something I can really work with.

After I posted my last blog, I got a message from Mark about how his cousin let him know that posting about dharma on FB is not appropriate. He sent a really long excerpt about how after you have taken vows, you should not share. If you have not taken vows, you should not share. I find that message confusing, it filled me with self-doubt and dismay. I’m sharing because I genuinely want to help myself and others. I was kind of grossed out by Mark’s message, as if it was written just to make me feel like a fool.

I think maybe sharing the rest of this book in this format is out of the question and I’ll take Mark’s message to mean that the Universe intends for me to keep this work to myself going forward. I am looking for a teacher, and Mark became one. I ran away from the discomfort of being completely dependent on another human being for transportation. I made choices to liberate myself. It wasn’t that I needed more entertainment. It wasn’t that I needed a better lover. It wasn’t that I don’t want to build a life with someone whose only source of income is driving for Uber and Lyft. It wasn’t that I felt completely paralyzed by living with him. Though, I did. I wanted to liberate myself so I could dive deeper into these studies and hold to a strong spiritual focus in my life. And it’s happening. I left Mark because the dharma felt stifled when I lived my life in partnership with him. I cannot lend my strength and support to a life style that does not include these studies. Sigh, where’s my child-like-ness? Where’s my sense of humor? How do I choose a partner for myself, I still haven’t learned?

Bryan’s calling and texting again and wants to work things out over time. He’s stuck in Nevada farming until October or November and we can’t see each other until then. So, I’m agreeing to date long-distance without physical intimacy. I have been against that kind of dating for a long time, but I said yes to it. He hasn’t drank the koolaid of bodhichitta, but he’s all about health, wellness, and yoga. Perhaps it’s a waste of time. Perhaps not. It’s a challenge. Yet another that I get to practice the privilege of not running away from. A second chance to not run away. Or a five-hundred-and thirty-second chance, maybe. He said to me that he dreams of owning a plaza where health and fitness are the focus – shops all tailored to helping humans help themselves. Yoga, juice, nutrition, tai-chi, pilates…. it’s a pretty dream that suits my tastes. Us running businesses that benefit humans…. the way we think humans are best benefited. Truth: just more egotism, isn’t it? My way of imprinting my will on the world so I can do what I want. Oh sheesh. Where do you go once you see that truth? My life is not my own. It never has been. I surrender and am taking this mess that I am back to bed.

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