No “Rupture”, Just a Slow Leak

I’ve been reading an article by Pema Khandro Rinpoche from the Spring 2015 issue of Buddhadharma. It talks about disruption.

“The Tibetan term ‘bardo’, or ‘intermediate state”, is not just a reference to the afterlife. It refers more generally to these moments when gaps appear, interrupting the continuity that we otherwise project onto our lives….Milarepa referred to this disruption as a great marvel, singing from his cave, ‘The precious pot containing my riches becomes my teacher in the very moment it breaks.’ This is the Vajrayana idea behind successive deaths and rebirths, and it is the first essential point to recognize: rupture.”

This sudden sense of displacement is real and there is social support for people undergoing such obvious trauma. A plane dives into the ocean or mountainside and the grief-stricken relatives are supported by family and friends. That makes sense.

But the world I live in is different. Most of my losses are more gradual. Barry’s health and our income did not vanish in one day. The issue was gradual; it was only my emotional realization that was sudden. The pot did not crash to the floor. Rather, it imperceptibly developed cracks and gradually leaked water until it was bone dry and useless. Then I desperately needed a drink and had nothing.

I see this everywhere both on TV and in my life. On one hoarding show, this lady had a Jacuzzi and wanted to give it to someone who needed water therapy. The haulers came to donate it only to find that vermin had chewed out the insulation to nest within it. Also, when I still attended church, in one of the last sermons I heard, Fr. Mark said that the church had 200 families. That startled me because he had told me the exact same figure a decade earlier, when attendance was at least a third higher. There is no way he was correct both times. Reality had changed dramatically, but his perception had not changed one iota. No rupture, just a slow leak.

I am accustomed to churches living in a fantasy world. That is part of living in the Midwest. Churches live in the past. Whatever.

However, I won’t go for a Buddhist version of Fantasy World, either. I do not currently reside in Shambhala. I have always greatly appreciated the nitty-gritty Buddhist understanding of suffering and how to deal with it compassionately and realistically.

Right now, I am reading The Method of No Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination by Sheng Yen. On page 47, he talks about just doing whatever you are doing wholeheartedly. “You should approach the task with a plan that takes into account the past and the future, but once you start the task, focus on the present.” You are not left stranded in the Eternal Now of McMindfulness. The past and future are taken into consideration before commencing with the task at hand.

Many years ago, I was chronically overwhelmed and did not deal with many things. “I just can’t handle this now,” was my refrain. I knew I would have to deal with things “later.” Guess what?  Later has arrived. Karma cannot be evaded. Cause-and-effect still rule.

What I am running into now is the lack of social support for even acknowledging the slower, equally real, changes of life. Denial is more powerful than crack. If I say something someone else is not ready to hear, I am informed that I am mistaken and exaggerating the problem, assuming one actually exists. Pardon me for warning you of the oncoming train. I am so gauche. What was I thinking? Never fear. I won’t be making that mistake again.

My Buddhist problem is simple: How do I handle changes honesty and mindfully without using discursive thought? Is it even possible?

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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