Saturday, March 3, 2012

Karma, Not Self, and Loving Kindness

Waking up in a dark mood, I did what I knew to be best for this kind of condition. 

I sat still and let myself be with all the unpleasantness. The grief, the sadness, the regrets, the guilt, and the many torturing thoughts to go with such emotions. I felt the full blown impact of negative karma from actions performed years ago, the effects of which continue to linger. And I decided to drop the guilt part, and to make the best of the situation. Negative karma is a great teacher, a constant reminder of the potency of every one of our thoughts, and actions. I cannot take back the past. I can choose however to live this moment, the best way I know how, guarding the mind from unskillful thoughts, and thinking twice before acting. Reflecting upon the fifth remembrance: I inherit the nature of my actions in body, speech and mind. My actions are the ground on which I stand. 

Karma set aside, I also pondered the fourth remembrance: All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. It helped knowing that what I was going through, was not personal. Family ties, even those I had thought so solid, are subject to the law impermanence, just like anything else. Nothing to be taken for granted, even the love of dearest ones.

Sitting some more, I noticed something else. I saw that each thought centered around 'me', 'I', and 'my' feelings, and with each such thought, a progressive tightening of mind, heart, and body, leading to even more suffering. There was no point continuing. Mind was becoming convinced of 'No 'I', no problem', and. the heart was yearning for loving kindness. Time for 'thou' and 'we'.

'May she be well, may she be at peace, and at ease.' I imagined estranged loved one, and I saw her suffering, and I wished for her heart to soften and her mind to let go. Heart welled up with much love and its own release. I was on a roll. Next came loving intention for another, one whose unconsciousness  has caused me much pain. That he too may be well, and free from reactivity. 'May he be well, may he be at peace, and at ease.' A few more faces surged in my mind, and heart continued its work, ending with giving myself some loving kindness also. 

The clouds lifted, almost completely. Only left, were a bit more wisdom, a bit more compassion for myself, and others. 

We are all trying.


  1. Difficult practice. I've had dark days, too- but where are they now? That's not a Zen question, it's real! I mean, I know I've got records of the dark days, but when I try and find the memory of feeling, it's un-recallable. Still, I fear I'll taste it again someday. How will I do? Not sure...

    Zen Hospice had a meeting here today!

  2. That was a good workout! Loving kindness and 'not I' - what crucial practice! Thanks for teaching by such good example.

  3. Dear Pigasus,

    Thank you. You are so right. When in their midst, the dark clouds seem so real, so solid. And then the next day, pouf, no trace left, as right now . . . Impermanence, not self. A good thing to remember, next time!

    So lovely that you got a visit from my ZHP friends! Green Gulch is one of my most favorite places.

    _/|\_ :)

  4. David, yes, it did feel like a workout. One of those times in practice when doing was in order. The mind cannot be left alone in such cases, it needs to be steered back on the right path.

  5. Thank you for sharing such "rubber hits the road" practice advice. So hard when you're really "in it".

  6. Thanks, Matt. Yes, this is where the dark cloud analogy really speaks to me. And where wisdom can make such a difference in the ability to 'see' beyond the darkness.