Monday, June 23, 2008

Things I Have Heard at Buddhist Teachings

1. There is a flower that grows in the Himalayas and only blooms once every 100 years. It is a rare person who ever sees it, even in passing, but even she rarely stops to realize its beauty.

2. In one moment of anger you can destroy a lifetime of good karma.

3. The myth of the western hero, replayed in popular films in the west, is of a hero who conquers evil by war and/or violence. But modern warfare is just a funeral pyre on which we heap the bodies of loved ones. (This was the topic of a talk by the Dalai Lama in NYC in --I think- 1996.)

4. Teachings on anger are like the texts on fire management read by forest rangers. There is always a lot of debate about the question of controlled burns.

5. Certain Buddhist masters, it is said, are magicians. They can levitate, manifest in two places at once, walk on water, and leave fingerprints in stone. Some of the greatest still fail to accomplish the most important feat of all: to leave an imprint on another’s heart.

6. The heart has a door which must be opened if one is to become a buddha. The door can only be opened by another human. Never by oneself.

7. A buddha is simply one who is awake. Everyone wakes up--if only for a second before s/he begins to dream again. Ah, what dreams! What nightmares . . . . We must keep our eyes shut tight to see what happens next . . .

8. But this is my question. Are the poems and stories only in the dream state? Would one be able to write if one woke up? Or would there be, as I have also been taught, no words for what/where/how one is then . . .


Christopher Barzak said...

I love these, but I especially love the question at the end. I've been thinking that myself lately. Is it only when we are dreamers that we can write or create in our various art forms? Is there perhaps no need for words when we wake?

Maybe when we're awake, though, I think it must also be lonely. Like walking through a city or town full of sleepwalkers. That kind of loneliness, I think, would also be cause, in a way, to continue writing, hoping that another woken person would find your message in a bottle.

Nin Andrews said...

Wow, I love that. I'd never thought of it that way.

I feel as if it's easy to get sucked into other's dreams, the community dream, the world dream . . . but not to dream at all?

I'm just about to leave for El Salvador, and when I am there, it seems as if this world vanishes, this way of being . . . until I return, and then that world vanishes . . .

Christopher Barzak said...

I feel it's easy to get sucked into other's dreams, too. The community or world dream especially. When I was in Japan, this world dropped away for me, but I wrote to it a lot, like a long distance relationship. A lot of that's in my next book. And when I came back home, that world slowly but surely came to feel like a dream, like America had felt when I was there, because living there was more real than here while I was there. I think I woke up while I was there from a lot of dreams, but I especially feel like I woke up after I came home and had the same feeling of the world I'd been living in for two years begin to recede and America came into the forefront again. I think it was after that that I felt more awake and conscious of all the dreams I'd been dreaming--some that were mine and some that were others--as dreams. And that definitely changed how I write, and also how I read.

It makes me want to go to another country again for a while. I felt like I was able to find out more about myself when everything I knew had been taken away and I had to figure out how to live in Japan's dream.

I love your blog!