Monday, March 10, 2014

facing suffering

In the time of the Buddha, a woman named Kisagotami suffered the death of her only child. Unable to accept it, she ran from person to person, seeking a medicine to restore her child to life. The Buddha was said to have such a medicine.

Kisagotami went to the Buddha, paid homage, and asked, "Can you make a medicine that will restore my child?"

"I know of such a medicine," the Buddha replied. "But in order to make it, I must have certain ingredients."

Relieved, the woman asked. "What ingredients do you require?"

"Bring me a handful of mustard seed," said the Buddha.

The woman promised to procure it for him, but as she was leaving, he added, "I require the mustard seed be taken from a household where no child, spouse, parent or servant has died."

The woman agreed and began going from house to house in search of the mustard seed. At each house the people agreed to give her the seed, but when she asked them if anyone had died in that household, she could find no home where death had not visited - in one house a daughter, in another a servant, in others a husband or parent had died. Kisagotami was not able to find a home free from the suffering of death. Seeing she was not alone in her grief, the mother let go of her child's lifeless body and returned to the Buddha, who said with great compassion, "You thought that you alone had lost a son, the law of death is that among all living creatures there is no permanence."

Friday, March 7, 2014

bigger, faster, better, more

"May we go back, then, to the floor of pebbles beneath the water and the fish in the sunlight's ripping net. . . . and watch?"-Alan Watts

Everything is fast. Everything is about more and bigger and better. Everything is about quick. From microwave dinners to full time jobs, after school events, superstores, we cram every piece of everything into our lives.

Nothing is about time.

Something I have been practicing in my life is slowness. I have found that if I can allow myself to be comfortable in slowness I feel more. I have more time with my family, notice the clouds and feel my breath. Such a hard practice, for it goes against all the currents of our society. Business and the amount of how productive you are, is a measure of worth. And I say that after just being declined a job I interviewed for. Do I feel worthy at this moment? Practice. Practice.

I realize that when I am at my deathbed, (hopefully) years from now, I am not going to look back and remember the days of errands, the days when I made the most money or worked the longest days. I will remember the slow days; moments. We all need to remind ourselves of this because our culture tells us we are never doing enough. It also creates a misconception that we are in control of how much we can control, when so much controls us. In some ways, it goes against the natural current of life. Life makes its own time and the best way to be a part of it is to flow right along with it. This has been, and will remain, my mantra for the next several months, or years.

Climate change (a reoccurring theme in my work) is not just an environmental issue, but a cultural issue. Excessive use of natural resources and the desire for more, have created a consumption based society. In turn, we have lost moments. Moments replaced with google calendars and datebooks. 

This moment.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

the thing with wings

A few weeks ago a friend wrote to me about hope. She assured me that when you feel hopeless, the people who care for you will always hold the hope for you, and that this is the invisible thread that connects us all. 

She also assured me that I could tug on this thread wherever I am, whenever I need. 

Hope, like the crocus shoots poking out of the ground. Finding their way through a cold winter surface to seek out the sun. 

Thank you, friend.