A photo from an internet shop in Taos NM
Life and Death in Tiru
Yesterday while driving on my errand route I noticed someone lying on the street near one of the open sewage channels they have around the houses here. It was a bit unusual as this was a major little passage way for traffic. I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing so I stopped and yes it was one of the Sadu’s who I’ve seen around for years in. He looked rather thin with his bonny knees sticking up. I went on my way. Later on that night I knew I’d be passing by there again so I brought a water bottle with me to give him a drink figuring he might be thirsty. My drink offering didn’t go quite smoothly, he was pretty out of it, and I left him the bottle hoping he’d somehow manage better by himself.
The next morning I woke up wondering how he’d faired and if I should check on him, bring more water or whatever. It had been the first warm night since my arrival so he might have survived. The cold night, down to 61 once generally 65-67, we’d been having here would have finished him off for sure. Cold nights like this are rough on the Sadu’s as they sleep outside and don’t have anything warm, just shirts and a sheet. My wondering and indecision went on for a good part of the morning. I didn’t want to return and find him there and have to confront my own discomfort and helplessness. Eventually, well into the morning, I found some practical errand justifications for going back there. I filled another water bottle found a cloth to cover his head with to protect him from the sun, and headed back. To my relief he was gone. Probably he’d expired (what a sanitized word we have for died/dead) and was picked up by the dead body collection division of the sanitation department. That must be low caste work for sure.
In India If you or your family has even modest means they’ll do some kind of funeral/wake at the end setting the body up displayed on the back of a Indian style funeral hearse then amble down the main road in a procession with people disassembling flower malas into the road, shooting off fire works, playing a loud Indian style clarinet and drumming music, as they go off to the burial ground for a cremation.
People keep asking me, “If it’s so terrible (I guess that reflects the spin I put on my stories.) why do you stay there? Below is one fragment of the answer.
India, its people, don’t attempt to hide death as we do in the west. It’s out there raw and real. And I have the opportunity to deal with my thoughts and feelings around death.
A friend who’s been here for many years commented that he’d seen 5 people die in front of his place over the years (He lived on a dead end street, so it was relatively peaceful without traffic.) he commented on how easily or peacefully people released themselves here, implying that western people have more resistance to death.
In India pensions are rare and old age homes are for the comfortably well off. Social security for most people consists of their family and if you are old without family and poor it’s not an easy road to tow to put it mildly. I’ve been seeing rather ragged lost looking old people wandering around in the streets. Men looking more lost than women generally. In India, family is community is life.
Hey shall we get out and support Hospice?
So… look around you well.
PS, A kind of side effect of this little drama, for me not for the sadu, was realizing, regarding my writing which I’d been putting off for more vital activeties, that is moving center activities, that I habitually engage in like laundry and home improvments, I’d been assuming l’d be alive tomorrow and tomorrow would have less pressing things to do and so I’d have more time to write. How do I get more time tomorrow than I have now? Talk about delusional.
Facets of the Sangha, continued
A note on blog protocol. As I’ve seen on other blogs participants have a blog pen name. A blog for dharma addicts anonymous, or unanimous. You don’t have to but it seems like a good protocol.
I didn’t realize that I would get to moderate the blog accepting or not the further comments that get posted. What I’ll do with this is accept comments that are philosophical or dharmic. I’ve received some comments of support which I appreciate but for the sake of keeping it streamline I won’t post those comments. But I do really appreciate them.
To my ‘virtual sangha’.
Does the idea that we are a sangha, sisters and brothers in heart, body and spirit, get filed away into the same category as ‘God is Love’, ‘We are all One’, ‘It’s all good’ etc? That is to say, adages that we agree with but then put on a mental shelf as nice but impractical, or for the more advanced, or however we view that mental shelf?
I consider this idea of how we understand us, as sangha, an important question, more than a question, real necessity of our work and the Work. Remmenber in my blog intro we’re on our way to Buddhahood so lets not kill him yet.
A friend told me a story. When he was a young and inspired seeker, told a story that his teacher said “the important thing is to know where things go”. He thought “This is the key to wisdom? My teacher must be an idiot.”
The way that I ‘know’ (even within the bigger understanding that I can’t know anything conclusively’.) is to have an experiential reference, from an ah ha, to an epiphany, and stronger. Some people seem to come pre-loaded with some of these innate fact I believe we all come pre-loaded, so to say, with Truth and all of its correlates, maxims adages on so on. I’ve met some people for whom truth and wisdom seemed less covered over, on or near the surface. Not I.
For any of these maxims, self evident truths such as “all men are created equal”, or even “do on to others as we would have them do on to you”, these wisdom sayings we’ve all heard, for any idea we want to label ‘truth’ for me to really begin to get it needs to pop up in me like I’d just discovered it as a new idea, otherwise for me it’s someone else’s idea not really my own yet, no matter how obviously true it may seem to me like “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Maybe the real issue is recognizing the difference between what I’ve heard and can talk about, versus what I “know” as how I live.
This puts us in a tricky situation regarding Lee’s words, recommendations, injunctions and so on. As one sangha mate said of us “we are found of quoting from ‘the book of Lee’, chapter and verse”.
So what’s to be done, the only thing possible, acknowledge and accept the situation, properly* that we don’t really know much for certain. No, that’s not the only thing, ignore it and continue with business as usual.
A caveat here is that it is no small matter to really know that you don’t know and can’t do”(non-mechanically), as they say in the forth way. Landmark Ed. makes no small effort at getting us to see this with “Nothing has any meaning and it doesn’t mean anything that it doesn’t have any meaning.” And from what I’ve seen afterwards this is quickly forgotten.
*Properly. With the remembrance that we have to speak as if we know what we are talking about, otherwise would be insincere or irrational, we do need to believe what we are saying, but with the additional program running in the background; that it is all an unknowable mystery. This affords a certain lightness of speech and being. I don’t need to convince anyone that I’m right about whatever even in the face of my believing that I am right.
“I’ve given you different definitions of sorcery, but I have always maintained that definitions change as knowledge increases. Now you are in a position to appreciate a clearer definition.” – Carlos Castaneda
To be continued somehow.
Facets of the Sangha,
I don’t know if this will be the first and last of my posts that you’ll read so I’ll try to … do the best I can to make it really ‘good’. So I won’t tie it into some colorful story about my life in India. You can go on-line and read an Indian newspapers like The Hindu, or Indian Express, for the flavor of India but be warned there are items in the news that look like Grimm’s fairy tales on steroids. I feel like I’m taking my sanity out of my own hands when I have a short scan of any of the local papers.
You know the saying ‘taking your life into your own hands’, implying that your about to do something dangerous? I don’t know, but whose hands was your life in before you take them into ‘your own hands’?
A couple of years ago a number of folks from the Prescott Sangha, and I’ve heard elsewhere, did some Landmark education trainings starting with The Forum. Some of them continued on with some of the more advanced programs they offer. In fact I was one of them.
I really think the programs that Landmark’s offers are great. When opportunities present I recommend The Forum with words like “You’ll get more bang for your buck doing the Forum, especially around early conditioning and family history, than from any other transformational program out there.” (What do I know of other programs anyway?) I mean it and believe that Landmarks trainings can provide a great type of preparation for work in a school. And, it’s not enough.
They, Landmark, understands that a couple of weekends isn’t enough for the insights and shifts to stabilize and so they heavily try to track people into their further programs.
A quote I heard Lee say that he credited to Werner E. was “Enlightenment cannot be sustained without an enlightened community.” We really need each other, the sangha, it’s good, necessary and it hasn’t seemed to me to be enough.
In some recent email communication I had with a sangha member the individual, who had a problem (s) with me wrote me that I wasn’t trusty worthy in a certain area and they wanted no further contact with me. This was disheartening; this person had done the first 2 landmark events and has been around the school awhile. This is one person. (And I don’t believe there is anything personal*) Now is the best we can do? I say no. what do you say? What do you want? Does this make any difference at all? Many of you live physically disconnected from other sangha. And I’m somehow connected primarily to the Prescott sangha.
Are you wondering about my “we” just above? Are we one sangha even when off in the hinter lands? I’m about to quote Lee which I don’t like to do but you probably will take it more seriously than if it’s me saying this. He said this when he knew his transition was on the near horizon, “I need everyone in the sangha for my work”. That is a second hand quote so it may not be accurate. But I believe that whatever he actually said he was trying to ‘head off at the pass’ the potential marginalization, a nice word for distancing-off of difficult or unpopular sangha members, by individual or in groups, or cliques, or ‘senior students’.
So we are one sangha, all different facets of the jewel of Lee’s work. So how do we, you my dear reader, be with such disturbing and difficult, people and situations?
Is it true that we all go together or we don’t go? Where is the edge of that ‘we’.
* Nothing is personal really. If someone shot me, it might be a huge hassle, unless I died, but it wouldn’t say anything about me. It would say something about them like lack of good conflict resolution skills and that they were having a bad day, but shooting me wouldn’t really say anything about me. Hasn’t happened yet, being shot, so I don’t know if I’ve fully integrated this understanding.
“The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a warrior. It is of no use to be sad and complain and feel justified in doing so, believing that someone is always doing something to us. Nobody is doing anything to anybody, much less to a warrior.” Carlos Castaneda
Too be continued…
Regarding the possibility of community and the this sangha specifically, Thich Naht Hanh was quoted as saying ‘the next Buddha will not be a person, it will be a community.’
I believe that it will be, will need to be, more than one community, and in this we, Hohm sangha, is certainly well on our way.
To the furthering and refinement of our work this blog is dedicated.
The unusual spelling of the word 1hohmsanghagain. is so that an internet search for the usual spelling we have will not accidentally bring up this webpage. This is meant as an ‘in house’ presentation.
I intend the following quote from David Bowie to be the spirit which I embody.
“If I’m going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about, there is no progress without failure, and each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artiest tries to second guess an audience’s taste, and little comes out of that situation ….”
Notices to readers.
When I use the words ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’, I am saying and meaning that I do not know, it’s just my opinion. In fact given my belief system around thoughts and knowledge and ‘the truth’, everything I write and say is ‘in process’, in fact, I believe that neither I, nor anyone else, can know anything for certain, while on this side of the vale and I don’t know about the other side. So as the theatre owner in ‘Shakespeare In Love’ keeps saying in answer to how he knows it’s going to turn out alright, “it’s a mystery to me”. Language is but the finger pointing at the moon. You don’t have to wear that. This is a qualifier to head off anyone getting bent out of shape from something I might happen to write that triggers them. Though obviously I believe what I’m saying it’s not taken by me as any final understanding. This little philosophical insight above allows me not to have to make sure anyone ‘gets it’. We can chill.
For all you English editor types; please turn off your internal spelling, grammar, and punctuation editor so as you don’t get bogged down with the form of this presentation. I don’t have a line editor proofing this.
Blogs are interactive so you can leave your own comments. I believe there will be a place to sign up to follow the blog somewhere? on the sidebar. It’s a ‘button’ that says “follow”. I invite you to sign-up by clicking on that button, that way you’ll get an email notice when there is a new posting. I intend to keep them short, whatever that means. There will probably be a number of things at the beginning and less over time. You can unsubscribe whenever you wish, things will appear as I have the time and internet access. I have a small back log now waiting for editing. I doubt that I’ll post 2 consecutive days so as not to get too cumbersome for readers. I trust this will be good food for thought.
From the I Ching
The image of THE JOYOUS.
Thus the superior man joins with his friends For discussion and practice.
A lake evaporates upward and thus gradually dries up; but when twolakes are joined they do not dry up so readily, for one replenishes the other. It is the same in the field of knowledge. Knowledge
should be a refreshing and vitalizing force. It becomes so only
through stimulating intercourse with congenial friends with whom
one holds discussion and practices application of the truths of
life. In this way learning becomes many-sided and takes on a cheerful lightness, …