obstacles

Long time, no post.

There has been so much to say, so much going on, so many thoughts…

So Much.

Just when I think that the roller-coaster of emotions has entered a level track, I get hit again. Some of the hits have taught me things about individuals and people in general. Other hits have taught me more and more about myself, both good things and the things I need to work on. And then there are the hits that take their time to show how much pain they can inflict as well as the hits that will always be there – every event, birthday, etc.

A dear friend and I got into a conversation a couple of weeks ago. I was feeling completely down and at a loss as to why I was still here. So much hurt and loneliness had been creeping in for the past several months and the airplane crash in August really sent me spiraling down – slowly – but still down. Then came the 2 year anniversary of Doug’s death, spreading his ashes, then my Uncle passing the same day as Doug did, completely losing it with a family member who doesn’t speak about nor has any pictures of Doug and I up in their house any longer after they started lecturing me on how to behave with my newly widowed Aunt…So much started making me feel that there was absolutely no purpose for me being here. Everywhere I turned, I was alone. Everywhere in my life – some kind of shit was happening. I was trying so hard, working so hard to get past all of it. To let go of so much. Let go of so much anger, hatred, hurt, sadness…all of it. I was trying and each time I felt better, something else would happen. My friend and I discussed all of this. We both cried and I reassured her that no – I wasn’t going anywhere but I did just question why the hell I was here. What purpose do I have? What am I supposed to learn?

Shortly after that conversation, I picked up one of Doug’s Buddhism books. I had read it before and glancing through some of the pages motivated me to purchase others. In one particular book, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, he writes:

“On the night on which he was to attain enlightenment, the Buddha sat under a tree. While he was sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara. The story goes that they shot swords and arrow at him, and that their weapons turned into flowers. What does this story mean? My understanding of it is that what we habitually regard as obstacles are not really our enemies, but rather our friends. What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword we can actually experience as a flower. Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.”

Anyone that has ever known me knows that I truly believe that we learn from whatever is in front of us – good or bad. I know that in my 20’s I had a great many obstacles in front of me that I learned from, let go and accepted the teachings. Essentially, I did turn the arrows and swords into flowers (to a degree – I’m no Buddha). The moment I did this and gained a sort of ‘enlightenment’ is when I met Doug. He was like no other person I had been with. He was what I had asked the Universe for. He was what I needed in order to learn even more. The moment I learned my lessons and moved beyond those that were hurtful, deceitful, conniving, selfish – was the moment a huge world opened up. It wasn’t just Doug that I met. I soon met people who would become close, wonderful and dear friends. I still had lessons to learn and in that period of my life, some I learned more quickly than others.

I find it interesting to look at this passage as a widow. So many of the obstacles that we (widows and widowers) face are the obstacles of human nature itself. The obstacles are the realizations that our perceptions and especially our expectations are just that – ours. There is no substance behind so much of it. We learn that we can not have high expectations for so many – it’s just not in their fiber. And from that, we must learn that this is all okay. Because, as the author states, we are shown where we are stuck. Maybe it is a toxic friendship that has always been toxic. Or maybe it is a friendship that we have always expected more out of but have never received and now we have the chance to just take it for what it is – take it with loving arms and open arms still giving what we can and learning not to expect anything in return. Widows and widowers can definitely get stuck. I hear stories of the same things happening over and over and over again in other widows/ers lives and it never seems to involve the same people. This is where we must take a look and see where we are stuck – what are we supposed to learn. What changes do we need to make.

Obstacles will always be in front of us. The obstacles will never go away until it has taught us what we need to know. It will return with ‘new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.’ After first reading this portion of the book, I found myself quite angry…something that probably was not intended by the author. I wanted to write him a letter and ask him ‘what about wrong-doing? what about the wrongs committed against me? The death of my husband, friends who have completely dropped off the face of the earth, people who I have felt betrayed by, situations where I feel I have absolutely no voice. What about those?’

And then it dawned on me…no voice. In all of these situations, I have felt that I have had no voice – or at least one that was heard. I had no voice in the death of my husband, no voice with friends that have walked away and certainly no voice that was heard by those that have betrayed or those surrounding them. I realized that all of these situations, these people, the universe would never hear me because I was not connected to my “basic wisdom mind”.

“Traditional teachings on the forces of Mara describe the nature of obstacles and the nature of how human beings habitually become confused and lose confidence in our basic wisdom mind. The maras provide descriptions of some very familiar ways in which we try to avoid what is happening.

There are four maras. Devaputra Mara involves seeking pleasure. When we are in a situation where we feel embarrassed or awkward, when pain presents itself to us in any form, we run from it in order to try to feel comfortable once again. Our bubble of reality that we once that was secure and certain has been popped. Having this happen to us, we don’t want to feel the pain nor the anxiety or the queasiness in our stomach or the anger rising within us or the taste of resentment. We seek pleasure to avoid the pain. When pain arises we want it gone. We may reach out to drugs or alcohol or watch TV in order to numb the mind and therefore the pain. We try to escape from the “more awkward, unpleasant, and penetrating aspects of being alive”.  Instead of changing all of this into a flower – we run. And this is where we have the ability to change all of this into a flower. By observing what it is that we do when we have pain, opening our hearts and taking a look at how we escape. We are able to look at our weakness and see it as a source of wisdom and that this is a way to connect to our basic wisdom mind.

This first mara is one that I must still re-read and remind myself of constantly.

Skandha mara is how we react when the rug is pulled out from under us. Ahh…yes, I know this one quite well. Our world gets shattered. We have no idea what will happen next or where we are and then we recreate ourselves. We try to go immediately back to a very solid ground of our self-concept. By doing this, recreating ourselves, we do not trust in our basic wisdom mind enough to say ‘let me stay right here and not be on that solid ground’. Touching into the mind of simply not knowing – basic wisdom mind. Touching into this gives us an opportunity to be inquisitive – what will happen next? Who will I become?

Klesha mara is emotion – strong emotion. “When everything falls apart and we feel uncertainty, disappointment, shock, embarrassment, what’s left is a mind that is clear, unbiased, and fresh. But we don’t see that. We use our emotions. We USE them. In their essence, they are simply a part of the goodness of being alive, but instead of letting them be, we take them and use them to regain our ground. We use them to try to make everything secure and predictable and real again, to fool ourselves about what’s really true. There’s no particular need to spread blame and self-justification.” This, once again, does not need to be viewed as an obstacle but as a time when we can take a real look and see the wildness of emotion and when we do this then we can begin to befriend and soften toward ourselves, we develop true compassion for ourselves and everyone else.  This one is harder for me to put into practice and fully envelope and then once I struggle with it, I’m reminded of skandha mara…oh the circling one does for enlightenment.

Yama mara – fear of death. This is an interesting one…Essentially, so much of what we strive for is to get to a point where we feel we’ve finally gotten it together. We have it all. We strive for perfection and security. If we run enough, meditate enough, eat the right food everything will be perfect. When we become seekers of security or perfection, happy in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable – this is death – to someone who is awake. ‘Living’ like this does not allow for something to come in and interrupt all of this. Controlling our experience of life sets us up for failure when an experience that we can not control comes into our life. “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. This is life. Death is wanting to hold on to what you have and to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together. With this, yama mara is actually the fear of life. I’m definitely the one who likes the control and it is quite interesting that the moments that I feel I have finally ‘gotten it together’ over the past 2 years is exactly when things fall apart. I struggled with this before I met Doug and I struggle with it once again.

It is quite interesting that when I was with him, I never did struggle with it – when I did have everything. In our life together though, we lived. We did not try to control or strive for perfection – we lived. And as I sit and think about all of that it has dawned on me that this aspect of our life together has given me strength to continue after his death. That when the biggest rug of all was pulled from beneath me, I allowed myself to feel every single emotion and understood that I was running from pain and I knew my reactions and emotions. I let go of any self-concept and it felt natural to not cling to who I was before.

It is only in the past year that I have fallen back into needing control, striving for perfection, wanting to feel confirmed and whole, used emotions and ran from pain. I’ve had more obstacles…and so many are obstacles that I have faced before. The ‘before Doug’ life…

It makes me ponder…

I was enlightened with Doug and even more so through his death. I was more alive with him and through the first year of his death than I am now. Was he sent to me because he knew how to live life? Was he taken from me because he was ready to move to the next level of enlightenment? Was his death really for a reason?

I’m not sure. For a second there…but alas, there will be no major items of enlightenment for me tonight…well, maybe just a couple.

One, I am grateful to and for all of those that have stood by me, listened to me, cried with me, pissed me off, still stood by me when I pissed you off, reached out with true compassion and love. I am grateful for those friends and family. I’m also so very grateful for those that have come back into my life. Friendships that were renewed from days long ago. Friendships that are blossoming from being aquiantences. Friendships that are just starting. I see how much you have given to me and how compassionate and loving you are to all of those around you and I thank you again for allowing me to struggle with the obstacles in front of me but never faltering in your support or love for me. And thank you for your willingness to listen – listen even though you’d like to scream at me to wake the fuck up and see those in front of me who truly do care and who will always be family. I have much to learn…

Obstacles, watch out. I think I just might have learned some lessons…and I say that not knowing myself, allowing all emotions to just be and without need of confirmation.

Namaste.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Flying Dodo, Widowhood

One Comment on “obstacles”

  1. ahsanfile Says:

    Hi there … i interest with your blog name “Java Girl”
    beacuse I really from java island…

    nice to meet you…
    is there another java in US ? 😀


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