The question, What is enlightenment?
I left off in the year 2007. I had a beautiful golden retriever named Bodh who completely changed the way I viewed things. He was my first dog. Of course I had dogs when I was a kid, but as an adult, my very own take care of everything dog. He was a difficult puppy. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing, but I read tons of books and immediately enrolled him in training classes. I was at the peak of my degree, by this I mean 30 plus hours in the studio and maybe 10 more in the library, not to mention all of my time at home was creating this, building that. He was by my side from the beginning. He had these deep eyes that expressed every emotion he was encountering. He was a bit of a nervous dog. If he was human maybe his anxiety would have been treated by some silly doctor. When a human that was male came around me and stole the attention he would pee in zig zags. That was one of his tricks. I should have listened to those zig zags pees more and maybe directed my attention to him. He absolutely wholeheartedly loved to dance. 360s in the air, and jump upon jump to express his joy. Well of course this ignited joy for myself. Honestly perhaps the first time I had experienced such a thing, as joy. If I was sitting down reading he would sit across from me when possible or below me, head between paws just looking up at me. As if he wished I could read out loud to him. Sometimes I would, because words out loud just seem to resonate. When things were chaotic he would beg me to let him outside and then he would run as fast as possible in circles, showing me how good it felt to be free. He constantly was reminding me to slow down, that sleep was necessary, and long walks would clear my head.
So as things became overwhelming in college my discipline became weaker and I wasn’t doing the things that had instilled for the first time the deep quietness inside me. My volunteering in the community was still there and that always reminded me of the act of giving. But my relationships with my friends wasn’t what I wanted, and I was depending a lot on my significant other. Slowly and slowly I was stepping away from all the things I desperately needed to be happy.
I was reading Body and Soul which yes Martha Stewart publishes, and I was in the section with new fiction and non fiction reads. Normally I don’t take advice from these columns, I pick my books by cover art, recommendations from friends, and the nytimes. But this time I glanced twice at, Plant Seed Pull Weed, and I was intrigued enough to purchase the book. Thank goodness because this book introduced me to Geri Larkin. Who since then has become my mentor in every aspect of my practice. She has found a way to speak to my very heart, her books are made up of stories from personal life and from others, with wit, and genuineness she tells you the tools you need to live a life of Zen Buddhism. I read the book 3 times straight, then I passed it along to my closest friends. I bought all the women in my life a copy for Christmas. And I was back on track. I traveled to California 3 times in 2007 and of course that beautiful west coast won me over. Boulders in the ocean reminded me that this world is covered in beauty. I was there to help a family with one of life’s greatest gifts. The first time alone is when I literally stood on a cliff in La Jolla and challenged myself to let go. Let go. I repeated this over and over. My mantra was to let go. There are things in life you can not control. You can not control these things. Let go. There should be no energy wasted on negative emotion evoked by things you can not control.
I was running away again. It felt exhilarating to be on the other side of the country and for no one to know. I kept running away from Tennessee, when what I needed was the courage to just leave. I had already established life is suffering and being one of the four noble truths now I needed to look at the cause of suffering. You have to know that life is suffering, you then have to look at the causes, at this point you will need to seek the truth of ending the suffering.
So it is 2008 and my last year of college…
Filed under: Teaching on May 28th, 2010