BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 36

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39454

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 36

    Case 35 never ends, yet now comes ...

    Case 36: Baso's Illness

    We all get sick, and judge (quite natural and reasonable for us to do so, mind you) that healthy is better than sick. After all, healthy is a lot more pleasant than sick!

    Some live long and some live short, and we judge (as seems right to do for most lives) that long is better than short.

    On another thread today, we discussed how "small" seems less important than "big".



    We think Buddha is better than "sentient beings", and "common" and "holy" are apart.

    But are these the only ways to experience things? What if we drop judgments like "better, worse or equal" ... and just flow? Beyond and right through "better worse or equal". You would be quite wrong if you believe that the result of doing so is just some neutral "stiff upper lip" gray resignation or hopelessness.

    Sun faced Buddha lives for thousands of years, Moon faced Buddha for but a day ... yet all Buddha, beyond birth and death. When sick Buddha, just be sick Buddha ... cough cough cough, moan moan moan Buddha.

    Even in the hard and unpleasant time, be simultaneously like a clear mirror which welcomes all reflected within ... big and small, beautiful and ugly. The mirror holds the star light and tiny firefly light, gun powder flash and incense light ... all of such.

    And though it is so ... we see the doctor, watch our health, and take the cures we can!

    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-12-2014, 12:00 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Ishin
    Member
    • Jul 2013
    • 1359

    #2
    Hi all

    For the most part my health is good, however in the last few years my wife has developed some health problems. I can't go into the details, but let's just say I went from having a wife who was able to drive herself and 2 toddlers on a 2 day car trip by herself, to a wife who now is limited to very short trips near our home. This is a very difficult for a strong independent person that my wife is to be suddenly taken off her feet like this. By default, of course it has been difficult for me. "When Mamma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" as the saying goes. This is all the more difficult because although as a health care practitioner I can help many people, some with the exact same problem, I have been unable to really help her.

    Prior to this practice, there would have been constant frustration, fear, blame, worry, self-doubt and self pity as well. Though there are moments when these little monsters pop into my head, this practice has helped me recognize those and not get all caught up in this kind of thinking. I "sweep". Now, I am able to just accept this situation for what it is. We have not given up trying to help her get well, but well/ not well does not live in my mind anymore. What is more, NONE of these reactions to what is happening is really helpful to me being a compassionate spouse to my wife. I have accepted the nature of things as they are, well or not well. I chop herbs carry support. Of course I WANT my wife to be well, for her and for me. Of course we work to try to find solutions. At the same time there is another way of being with this that doesn't throw me off center.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Ishin; 03-11-2014, 01:05 PM.
    Grateful for your practice

    Comment

    • Jishin
      Member
      • Oct 2012
      • 4820

      #3
      Originally posted by Jundo
      Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.

      Gassho, J
      Before Zen I would feel good good and bad bad. Zen helps me drop the bad of the bad bad and the good of the good good where I have just good, just bad. This is the academic answer, my BS answer.... In truth, I don't know If I am more accepting of good and bad.

      I was very ill recently with the Flu which later turned into bronchitis/walking pneumonia. I felt horrible and wanted to die. One day while in bed I was so weak and thought that if I expired right then, It would not be bad. It was very peaceful to know that death might not be such a bad thing. When its time, its time. Just death. Just this. Is my acceptance because of Zen? Don't know and that's OK.

      Gassho, Jishin

      Comment

      • Geika
        Treeleaf Unsui
        • Jan 2010
        • 4980

        #4
        "Enjoy the non-toothache."

        I don't know who said this, but I think of it a lot. It puts things in perspective, especially if you've experienced several days with a bad toothache.

        I try to keep aware of the abiding Sun-Faced Buddha, but also welcome the Moon-Faced Buddha when he must show. Still the same Buddha, even if the Moon-Faced Buddha brings some anxiety.
        求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
        I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

        Comment

        • Kokuu
          Treeleaf Priest
          • Nov 2012
          • 6785

          #5
          I wish I could share a lot of wisdom about this but we all have our stuff to deal with and illness is no different. Most things become normalised, given sufficient time, and that can look a lot like acceptance. If I sat without pain it would feel weird. Moon-faced Buddha is just how things are.

          My friend Irina, who brought me to Treeleaf, came up with a lovely saying/mantra when times are hard – "this is what it feels like to be human". It works for me a lot. Why would we expect our experience not to include pain and sickness?

          One thing that illness does offer on the great way is the chance to appreciate that you are not the only one who suffers. Many people feel this way, or worse, and I feel their pain. The Tibetan practice of tonglen (breathing in the pain of others and breathing out joy) can be transformative in this regard, bringing me face-to-face with both my own experience and the experience of others. I feel pain, you feel pain. Not one, not two.

          Gassho
          Andy

          Comment

          • Kokuu
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Nov 2012
            • 6785

            #6
            This koan is also rather lovely on the practice of dealing with illness:

            When Dongshan Liangjie was not feeling well, a monastic said, “Master, you are not feeling well. Is there anyone who doesn’t get sick?”
            Dongshan said, “Yes, there is.”
            The monastic said, “Does the person who doesn’t get sick take care of you?”
            Dongshan said, “I have the opportunity to take care of the person.”
            The monastic said, “What happens when you take care of that person?”
            Dongshan said, ‘At that time, I don’t see the sickness.”
            Gassho
            Andy

            Comment

            • Daitetsu
              Member
              • Oct 2012
              • 1145

              #7
              Originally posted by Jundo
              Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.
              In the last weeks I've been going through a "rough patch" (well, there are always things that are worse, I know).
              It is always nice and easy to practice when everything is running smoothly, but I found out that it is during those "bad times" that our useless practise turns out to be not useless at all.
              Yes, it was painful, I did not enjoy it and sometimes I was afraid - yet at the same time there was a calmness. This sounds schizophrenic, I know.
              The best thing to describe it is probably Jundo's image of the light that always shines through. Even during heavy weather, there is always the blue sky behind the clouds and a light shining through.
              I also remembered Kodo Sawaki's saying (which is one of my favorite mantras): "Everything you encounter is your life."
              That's it - this is pain, this is a part of my life for some weeks/months, and I am experiencing it (although I'm not a masochist).

              Things are getting better every day, but a whole new health issue (unrelated to the other) has come up lately. The coming weeks will show what that means, and while I am worried, there is still a sense of peace at the same time.
              Don't know if this makes any sense to you...

              Gassho,

              Daitetsu
              no thing needs to be added

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39454

                #8
                Originally posted by Daitetsu
                Yes, it was painful, I did not enjoy it and sometimes I was afraid - yet at the same time there was a calmness. This sounds schizophrenic, I know.
                I sometimes describe Zen Practice as the "good kind of healthy schizophrenia!" A "split personality" that is also one beyond one or two.

                Let's sit some Zazen for you and all folks waiting doctors' test results and such.


                Gassho, J
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Risho
                  Member
                  • May 2010
                  • 3179

                  #9


                  Gassho,

                  Risho
                  Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                  Comment

                  • Mp

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Jundo
                    I sometimes describe Zen Practice as the "good kind of healthy schizophrenia!" A "split personality" that is also one beyond one or two.

                    Let's sit some Zazen for you and all folks waiting doctors' test results and such.


                    Gassho, J
                    Yes!

                    Gassho
                    Shingen

                    Comment

                    • Daitetsu
                      Member
                      • Oct 2012
                      • 1145

                      #11
                      Thank you!


                      Gassho,

                      Daitetsu
                      no thing needs to be added

                      Comment

                      • moondance
                        Member
                        • Mar 2014
                        • 7

                        #12
                        Last Fall, I went through the death of my beloved cat, Saabo. He showed up at my house as a 4 month old kitten, the day my house was being blessed by my two Zen Master friends. His whole life was like that- magical. He was always the furry buddha in my life. About a year ago, he became ill. He went from a healthy 25 pounds to just 7 pounds when he passed. We still don't know what he died from, he had many things happen including a thyroid tumor. He was only 14 when he died.

                        At his last vet visit, they said he was dying and offered to "put him down" right then and there. I lost it. I brought him home and made some last strong attempts at saving him. After a couple of weeks, I finally got it. It was time and there was only one thing to do; spend every moment I could with him, helping him through it. I took time off from work. I sat with him. I prepared an altar, bought an urn, and made arrangements. I kept the house quiet and recited scriptures. I held him and looked into eyes. We spoke to each other. He was in pain and stopped eating and the rest. He was holding on. I made arrangements for a vet to come out to help him pass, a difficult decision, but the best one.

                        I learned more about life in that two weeks than I think I ever will. During that time I not only mourned his loss, but I regretted all the time that I had missed with him because I wasn't paying attention or was distracted. I lived more fully in that two weeks than I ever have. I realized that today, I'm facing death, right now. The only thing to do is to live fully in death, right now. He was still the whole time, he didn't talk, he didn't complain, he was just present with me and I with him. I took him for granted during life- I thought he'd live to be at least 20 years old. He taught me to live life no matter what is going on. He taught me to be with whatever is going on, even during illness or death.

                        The moment he passed, thunder and lightening crashed in the distance. A freak thunderstorm appeared, I thought "how perfect that he would leave this way." I carried him out to the car and a beautiful gold and pink filled the sky and lit up everything around us. I felt him rise up into the clouds. Thunder sounded. My husband and the vet looked at each other with their mouths open at the beauty of it. I wasn't surprised at all.

                        I changed my life after that day. Saabo brought me back to practice. He saved my life, again. He always was teaching me and he still is.

                        Homage to all the Buddha-Kitties in the world!

                        Gassho,
                        Diana

                        Comment

                        • Shinzan
                          Member
                          • Nov 2013
                          • 338

                          #13
                          Diana, what a touching remembrance.

                          For me, being around a relative who lost a child was the practice place. Just hanging out with whatever feelings were coming up in the family, without pushing for 'closure' or 'healing' was a challenge. Nothing I could fix, change or help. I know I blew it a couple of times and put my foot in my mouth, saying something without thinking first. Okay (sigh), then noticing that I was leaking my anxiety too.
                          Shinzan
                          Last edited by Shinzan; 03-14-2014, 11:15 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Mp

                            #14
                            Diana,

                            Beautiful story ... and yes, our furry four legged friends can sure be the beautiful expression of Bodhicitta. =)

                            Gassho
                            Shingen

                            Comment

                            • Shugen
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Nov 2007
                              • 4535

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Amelia
                              "Enjoy the non-toothache."

                              I don't know who said this, but I think of it a lot. It puts things in perspective, especially if you've experienced several days with a bad toothache.

                              I try to keep aware of the abiding Sun-Faced Buddha, but also welcome the Moon-Faced Buddha when he must show. Still the same Buddha, even if the Moon-Faced Buddha brings some anxiety.
                              Gassho


                              Shugen
                              Meido Shugen
                              明道 修眼

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