Musings & Meditations

The Bodhisattva Is Us

Posted in Spirituality by Pam Keesey on May 8, 2014

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the Hearer of the Cries of the World. And one of the characteristics of Avalokiteshvara is that she manifests herself in accord with the circumstances. So she always presents herself in a form that’s appropriate to what’s going on. In the Bowery, she manifests as a bum. Tonight, in barrooms across the country, she’ll manifest as a drunk. Or as a motorist on the highway, or as a fireman, or a physician. Always responding in accord with the circumstances, in a form appropriate to the circumstances. How is that?

Every time there’s a stranded vehicle on the side of the road and a motorist stops to help Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva has manifested herself. Those characteristics of wisdom and compassion are the characteristics of all beings. All Buddhas. We all have that potential. It’s just a matter of awakening it. You awaken it by realizing there’s no separation between self and other.

~ John Daido Loori

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The Self, Unplugged

Posted in Philosophy, Spirituality by Pam Keesey on September 1, 2010

Robert Wright reflects on Buddhism and the power of silent meditation in his article in The New York Times. I was particularly taken by this passage:

So there you go: covetousness, schadenfreude, anxiety, dread, and on and on. It’s the frequent fruitlessness of such feelings that the Buddha is said to have pondered after he unplugged from the social grid of his day — that is, the people he lived around — and wandered off to reckon with the human predicament. Maybe his time off the grid gave him enough critical distance from these emotions to discover his formula for liberation from them. In any event, it’s because the underlying emotions haven’t changed, and because the grid conveys and elicits them with such power, that his formula holds appeal for many people even, and perhaps especially, today.

It echoes my own experience with Vipassana meditation. I’m thinking it’s been too long since I’ve made meditation a regular part of my daily life. Time to unplug, even if only for a little while each day.

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Why Vampires Never Die

Posted in Art & Society, Mythology and Folklore, Spirituality, Vampires by Pam Keesey on July 31, 2009

There’s an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times this morning by Guillermo del Toro entitled “Why Vampires Never Die.” He makes an interesting case for the contemporary resurgence of the popularity of the vampire.

In part, del Toro suggests that it is our own technological arrogance that fuels this inner need for a connection to, if not a belief in, monsters. “For most people then,” he writes, “the only remote place remains within. ‘Know thyself’ we do not.”

Broken Hearted

Posted in Family, Garden, Spirituality by Pam Keesey on April 6, 2009

Spent a quiet weekend remembering Jenny and Gus, remembering all of the good times, and appreciating how far I’ve come since their deaths. It was our first really gorgeous spring day yesterday, and spent a wonderful day out enjoying the sunshine. I went to the farmers’ market, and picked up a few things. Then I headed to the nursery to pick up a few plants for the garden.

It was such a wonderful day to dig in the dirt, to turn the soil, and plant seedlings. There’s so much more work to do in the yard, but it seems less insurmountable than it has these last few years.

Having had such a peaceful weekend, and such a lovely day, I was surprised by the dream I had last night.

I was in Norrie’s house. Jenny had disappeared again, as she used to do so often in her 20s. Not run away or anything like that. She’d be busily involved in whatever caught her fancy, and not call, get her phone cut off, and perhaps move to a new apartment, and then suddenly we wouldn’t know where she was. That’s when my mom would call and ask me to “find” Jenny. And off I’d go to her favorite haunts, asking her friends to tell her to call her mother.

In this dream, it was much the same situation, but for some reason I’d gone to Norrie’s and we were going to look for Jenny together. Norrie’s house was flooding — which it has just recently, with all the precipitation in North Dakota. I don’t know if it was a reflection of current events, or a symbol of some kind. The image of being overcome with water is so full of meaning on its own.

We took some pipes to a house down the street, and it was there we found Jenny. Suddenly, my perspective changed. I went from standing and walking to a reclining position, as though I were lying in a hospital bed with my head and shoulders slightly raised. And Jenny turned to look at me and stared at me intently with a look of grave concern on her face. I remember that look from when she’d come to see me in the hospital after being rushed to the emergency room — fear, love, concern, all rolled into one.

She came close, talking to me, saying words I don’t entirely remember until she said, quite clearly, “Are you broken-hearted?”

I felt the emotion swell up inside me, and I awoke with tears in my eyes. I didn’t feel sad at all, but suprised, and comforted by her presence.

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Into the Green

Posted in Family, Philosophy, Spirituality by Pam Keesey on April 4, 2009

Jenny was killed around 1:30 a.m., April 5, 2007. It would have been 10:30 p.m. April 4, my time. So tonight, at 10:30, I lit candles in Jenny’s memory and prepared for my meditation.

Sometimes, before I begin meditating, I turn to my Chinese oracle sticks and the book Kuan Yin: Myths and Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion. Tonight was one of those nights. I chose at random one of the sticks, and came up with the number 15. I turned to poem 15, and what I read made me cry:

Into the Green
Thirsty and footsore, as you walk in the heat of the day
Sudden disasters come out of the sky, out of nowhere —
Like a bird whose nest has plummeted out of a tree
To find yourself in peace, go deep into the wilderness.

I think I’d been circling the wilderness for quite some time, but Jenny’s death propelled me head on into the vast emotional unknown. It’s been two years now, and I am only now beginning to feel like I’m finding my way out of the wilderness, not just changed, but fully transformed, and — perhaps for the first time ever — at peace.

I am struck by the realization that it is through coming to terms with Jenny’s death that I have only really started to learn how to live.

I love you, Jenny, and I miss you so very much.

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