Fear and Fantasy

When it comes to fear and discomfort, contemplative teachers–even motivational speakers for that matter–describe various step-by-step processes of questioning, of breaking down the elements as one might do with a therapist, to reach some truer source of pain.

It isn’t bad advice, and I confess to being fond of listening to such advice like a favorite song, tucking away the ideas in my pocket for later, just in case someone else may benefit. After all, it does make sense that the deeper you go into a matter, the more layers you have a chance to clear up. Even productivity-wise you can’t go wrong!

“All feelings are positive”, says Jenn Lim, so why hesitate?

Still, for myself, step-by-step advice often seems quaint. By the time I even consider inquiry, fears and discomforts have whirled by feverishly and left a mess to attend to in their wake. The window in which to walk through anything systematically seems to have closed, and ‘starting fresh tomorrow’ seems the best course. But is it really?

Today went another way.

I left work feeling deflated. I’d been busy from start until just before finish, wrapping up a series of designs in what I felt was the most efficient way possible, only to be (albeit lightly) scolded just before I left, for taking too long. It had suddenly gotten quite busy just as I’d gone off floor to wrap details. Still, I knew I had balanced my time well, and that the other person was operating from a blind spot. If anything, they’d spent twice the time with their customers that I had with mine, after having come in hours later.

Mind you, I have a lot of respect for this other designer, and know the nature of things when there aren’t enough people to manage a rush. Everyone is handling more than they can, so it’s hard not to look left and right and think the next guy isn’t measuring up. The pattern isn’t new, and I’ve definitely fallen into it myself, but without scolding. Rather than feel put upon, it would have been better for this designer to ask me more detail about what I was working on to see if it could be approached differently. I’m fairly confident they would have comprehended the deadline more clearly. If not, at least I wouldn’t have felt so shot down in a flash after a long day.

Granted, there was a time I would have cried, and I didn’t, though I teared up a little writing it out here. And maybe therapy is finally clicking in, because a few hours after arriving home, after taking time for tea, I began to ask myself a few of those probing questions.

  1. What emotion were you actually feeling?
    Disappointment.
    Looked over.
    Unsure whether it is worth trying to be heard. Why even try?
    Sadness (I tried my best and still didn’t meet expectations)

    Pride. **Don’t you know who I am?
    This last one is funny, I guess. It’s the gist I boiled down from a longer rant about being taken for someone only capable of, or not even capable of, such a job. I realized how much I wish to be seen in more of a totality than a present body performing a task. When I feel reduced in such a moment, especially by someone I’ve worked with a while, I’m quite hurt.

  2. Why is the discomfort so strong (disproportionate)?
    Fear.
    I fear this isn’t the right place for me / I’m not sure what else I’d do.
    I fear that this could be the right place for me, but I’ll leave prematurely just before things get better. It’s always so close to being right.

    There’s more, but you get the idea.

    Hidden in the bundle there also arose what I’ll call spiritual perfectionism. When I look at the attachment I feel to my role there, not just as a ‘good designer’, but taking being an excellent ‘worker’ and colleague to be a fractal of mattering in the world on the whole, I feel shaky.
    Something is not quite right.

    The way I get through my day is by seeing my work as more than what it is a lot of the time, or by looking for opportunities to make it into more. I feel a lot of satisfaction while giving detailed attention, or even just having warm exchanges over trivial things. The trivial turns out not to be so trivial a lot of the time, as people are undergoing stressful transitions in life. I help smooth their paths.

    But here’s something. Perhaps in seeing things this way, I’m not holding my role very lightly. Perhaps I’m even doing the opposite, by putting weight on it to be a vehicle of ‘more’ and reflection of practice instead of mere place of exchange. Am I using the company to play out my spiritual fantasies!?!

    What a weird idea.

    Something I’ll have to consider more.

    Where are the lines, after all?

    “For Hongzhi the whole purpose of practice is to “graciously share

    yourself with the hundred grass tips [i.e., myriad beings] in the
    busy marketplace.””

    -from “Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi” by Taigen Dan Leighton, Yi Wu


    “Looking back, I guess I used to play-act all the time. For one thing,

    it meant I could live in a more interesting world than the one around me.”

    ― Marilyn Monroe
JessicaDavidson.co.uk

enlightened (non)activity

From Tuesday afternoon until Friday night, I mostly slept. From Friday night until Sunday night, I attended an online Dzogchen retreat. Today, Monday, I’ve spent restless, neither sleeping nor awake, neither up nor down, watching things on my computer from bed, half interested. I should be studying Spanish, but feel blurry-minded.

[ Entry: The week of our Covid-19, 2022. ]

Let me write about the retreat. Wonderful! Honestly, I’m already looking back on it, acknowledging the opportunity with a sense of importance and awe, although certainly I wasn’t able to live up to what I’d envisioned my part of things to be, meditating in between sessions, taking contemplative walks.

At some point one of the Rinpoches advised those in attendance not to take formalities lightly, being on Zoom, not to slouch or lean back lazily listening as if to a song on the radio. As he said this, I was laying on my side and contemplating the ethics of recording teachings not being recorded otherwise, my eyes struggling to stay open, my stomach cramping. No hiding for me, certainly no dignified presentation! They couldn’t see me, but in that moment I accepted it was fine if they could.

I thought, let’s be really real. If I was going to be there, I was going to be there as I was.

Life has done a lot this year to get me to treat myself with the same care I treat others. How easy it is for me to encourage someone else to have patience and humor with their limitations or embarrassments, while covering my own, not asking for accommodations even when needed. Philosophically I may not just believe in but indeed value interdependence, and the way all beings actually require one another, but practically it takes a lot for me to admit to that day to day. I’ve often felt proud not to leave evidence of struggle around, even if has meant misunderstandings in other areas, perhaps seeming aloof or avoidant.

But not this year.

This year I’ve had to take a full month off of the work at the store to investigate health, and upon returning, had to insist on shorter hours, sitting when necessary, etc. Then, just as I begin to get into a routine again, albeit pushing myself a bit more than I vowed, Covid. So I’m off again, but not with too much trouble for them since I’d taken the weekend for the retreat already, as part of treating myself with gestures of love and care.

And It truly was a loving, caring retreat, focused precisely where my last blog post left off: timelessly luminous nature of mind. What an absolute gift!

After the retreat closed, I fell asleep listening to a beautiful White Tara Lunar Nidra ritual through Tibet House US on YouTube, feeling cradled and soft. Tara has been active in my awareness persistently for a few weeks now, as Green Tara in a sadhana shared by a friend where I also learned the Condensed Praises; as a friend at work by the same name who has been helping bring more awareness to the way I treat my body with food; to this practice; to happening upon another Lama suggesting Tara practices when praying for Ukraine, earlier in the day. Ah, and actually a few weeks ago I went into Second Life, showing the Green Tara Temple to another friend, and meditated there.

Btw, it’s funny to me that my friend named Tara is not only not Buddhist, but doesn’t seem to have any knowledge of Buddha Tara. I made a little joking comment once, that she was my Buddha (I’ve learned a lot from her at work as well), and her face hardened a bit, not complimented. So I’ve never brought it up again, although we did have a nice conversation about faith in general one day. I think she considers my Buddhism to be ‘belief’ in Buddha the way many Christians would say they ‘believe’ in Jesus. And that’s fine with me, for her to think that. Who am I to say it isn’t, anyway.

21 Taras (image gathered through Pinterest, where the poster got it from an image search. I didn’t found the first source)

wish-fulfilling dreams

A strange thing has happened now that tossing and turning has fallen away from nighttime explorations; I find myself reliving alternate scenarios such as “What if married life with G had taken this turn?” Last night, I was the one working more, coming home to be shown our baby’s head lifting up with strength for the first time, other things. The dream was bright and not exactly magical, but fine. No, it was really fine. There was contentment.

When I have these dreams, there is the residue of other dreams I then remember, fragments of other more optimistic scenarios wherein I see my true wishes and also get a chance to have them play out a bit. They become experiences I have had, and therefore are in a different category from pie-in-the-sky wishes. They are sort of checked-off, although not fitting into what the circumstances of my life say is true.

The starkest of these remains the dream of mourning my grandfather’s death alongside my mother and sister, generating care and okay-ness, moving into a next, more loving phase of life together. That’s not the scenario that played out in this timeline, but it has brought me comfort to go back to that dreaming self and say “I see you.” When accused of this or that intention, I have this deeply rooted knowing there, reminding me of what I really aspire toward, which is love. Forgiveness too, yes, within that, but not a keep-the-fragile-peace forgiveness: a forgiveness which is honest and can’t be shaken, wherein people who love each other love each other in full view of failures and misunderstandings and doubts, as well as victories and reliefs and good works/intentions. One reason so much spaciousness occurred when my mother exited is precisely that the shaky ground which kept me on-guard all the time, finally just gave way as I feared. Which doesn’t mean I wanted it that way.

I’m reminded that during my first real therapy sessions, when Dr. tried to take me through visualizations of support, building layers of ground beneath me, I still couldn’t find stability. Something insisted on holding out for The Real Deal. Those visualizations indeed turned out to be a kind of priming before the insight of groundlessness.

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” ”

― Chögyam Trungpa

Is there a chance these wish-fulfilling dreams are pointing to something yet deeper, as well? What is the territory I’m actually meant to explore? Buddhism loves the concept of the wish-fulfilling gem, which I’ve taken to be (the mind of) Naturally Occurring Timeless Awareness, a la Longchenpa. These dreams may themselves act as objects of meditation, or taken together, as a singlular koan.

“Naturally occurring timeless awareness—utterly lucid awakened mind—
is something marvelous and superb, primordially and spontaneously present.

It is the treasury from which comes the universe of appearances and possibilities, whether of samsara or nirvana.

Homage to the unwavering state, free of elaborations.”

― Longchen Rabjam

Image from Google. I couldn’t find the direct link, but this marvelous little arctic fox, with his wonderfully mischievous smirk, has been posted a lot on Pinterest. ^.^

New Tricks

The loop messages have been playing at high quality, as though a layer has been sloughed off, leaving programming clearly exposed. This time, it isn’t a critical voice, but an even more constant beat, surely affecting the rhythm patterns of movements and breath overall. I hadn’t realized this further layer before, perhaps because when I compare what it was like “before”, mind is deeply open and quiet much of the time. Sill, it feels great to notice the minuscule skips. When the loop is exposed so well I can, as though undoing a mistake in a knitting pattern, easily reach my needle in to release it.

The most common loop I’m picking up on? “I’m tired.” I’m not even tired half the time I notice this! And there’s the feel of a shield of some sort, likely deflecting the previously-expected critical voice that dropped away. So far, I’m able to stop to ask “Am I, actually, tired?” Or sometimes, more accurately, “Are you?” “Who are you, saying you are tired all the time, anyway?” “Let’s teach you some new tricks. What’s more fun to say?” More fun than “I’m tired” is “I’m happy”, for instance.

If I am tired, I might still ask “Who are you talking to?” Is there someone (in memories) I’m trying to get not to exhaust me further, someone I wish would allow more space, rest? What if I offer that? Even just being willing to let go is relief.

Speaking of new tricks and phrases, I had a few ‘proud of myself’ Spanish moments in the store today. An older couple beamed at my attempts to help in their more comfortable language. My heart was so moved by their appreciation. Overhearing the exchange, a co-worker praised our attempts to understand each other as well, adding that she likes to hear the way I use English… “so many different words.” When this coworker was growing up in Nicaragua, no one took much time to help her along, so she too feels limited and is learning from our diverse Miami community, where so many Spanishes are spoken.

Her compliments, and the story behind them, sparked a pause as I reflected on neglectful periods of my own upbringing. There’s certainly a case to be made for my being left to my devices too much as a child, while at the same time, I managed to enjoy many enriched experiences and friendships along the way. I’m so thankful for an attentive early education, for instance. It wasn’t either/or.

A common thread through my journals is the difficulty of weaving contrasting narratives when one cares about being and becoming genuine. There aren’t many heroes or villains in my stories, but there are a few, and I’ve become capable of honest apology alongside becoming capable of giving difficult feedback when needed. Like learning knitting and Spanish and qigong all at once, capacities grow together.

I guess that’s why they call it the blues

Asian TV.

I’m addicted.

The dramas evoke emotion and meaning, so I haven’t been able to convince myself they lack value to my life and mind. Many are romantic, but not just; the dominant themes are ethics and chosen family, amidst backstories spanning multiple lifetimes. Distinct cultural paradigms. I love exploring different ways of thinking about time, seeing how calculations play out if someone buys into various conceptual measurements of what constitutes virtue and goodness.

It isn’t that there isn’t anything comparable, but very little in Western television resonates with me beyond ‘entertainment value’, whatever that is. When I talk to my therapist about the shows, as part of a ‘bundle of behaviors’ I get lodged into from time to time, she asks “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”

I reply with the answers I just gave, but there’s something else. She knows this and is waiting for my real answer. Me too.

My strongest childhood memories of television find me sitting on the floor of the great room of my elementary school, the space filling and emptying around me. Captain Kangaroo. Feelings are around being the first one dropped off to school or the last one picked up, watching the teachers watching the door. The impressions are strong, even though this might not have happened often.

During weekends at home, Shirley Temple would be on TV, Tarzan, and sometimes Fred Astaire at night. Astaire became my first crush, so much so that I teased my ex-husband about choosing him for the Fred shape of his head. I still love songs from those musicals, still feel happiest wearing long flowing dresses (day gowns) that swish and move in time, while viewing the productions through a more critical eye as an adult. A child doesn’t ask themself what or who is missing from a story, or why.

Shall we dance
Or keep on moping?
Shall we dance
Or walk on air?
Shall we give in
To despair
Or shall we dance with never a care…

Later, my mother would have me videotape soap operas when I got home from school, so she could watch them after work in the evenings. Neither of us could program the VCR program to record correctly, and if I watched, I could edit commercials. I’m not sure if she asked me to do that, or if I liked them; it was more like second-hand smoke.

Saturday morning cartoons were also a big thing, for other kids. Staying with a friend, I paced restlessly while she watched her favorite show, tortured because she lived in an apartment building with a big pool I’d woken excited to get into right away. Speed Racer broke through that cartoon barrier eventually, though I can’t place what it was about it that caught my interest enough to wake a full hour early before Jr High. The Japanese creator of the manga Mach GoGoGo, self-taught artist Tatsuo Yoshida, was inspired by Elvis and James Bond movies, which makes perfect sense. It was definitely a vibe. I wouldn’t want to watch it now, nor tamper with my memories.

As soon as I moved out on my own (for certain values of my own), I traded soap operas for CSpan and BookTV, making efficient use of time. There was such an urgency I felt, to become someone of substance! And for the most part, I kept to that going forward, gravitating toward what I could justify as enrichment, with the kids once they arrived, as well. We watched animal and science shows, and there were long periods in which we didn’t have a TV at all, or where I closed it behind cabinet doors, restricting hours it could be on.

As I write this, I realize I may have strongly factored the influence of TV when sleuthing out reasons my mother was depressed, and later, suicidal. Alongside soap operas came Phil Donahue then Oprah, and she, like many mothers then, began to talk about childhood wounds and injustices more, and more dramatically. There was more crying, more shopping and debt. Arguments with my step-father intensified. My sister was born.

Always interested in biographies of suffering, I believe my mother couldn’t always tell the difference between her own stories and the stories she read, then the interviews she watched on TV. She began to re-frame her own narratives with those others in mind; I was captive audience for tales I couldn’t process. Terrible decisions to come would be justified by past-life regressions she learned about through Shirley McClain. Thanks, Oprah. Then, pendulum swinging the other direction, televangelists entered the scene.

No wonder my relationship with TV is so charged! These days my watches Fox News for hours, and ways in which I think and live differently are taken as attacks. There’s nothing we can say to one another, although with distance, compassion for her suffering comes to the surface, is more present. The sleuthing energy is not needed to protect myself anymore, but for inquiry and exploration.

Hopefully that exploration becomes increasingly generous, ever more transformative.

Hm. I’ve unexpectedly written into another layer of answer to my therapist’s question “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”

There is integration and healing going on.

I mean, take the show I watched a few episodes of last night, Our Blues. It’s melancholy, and I’m affected by how direct-facing and sad, yet beautifully too, the relationships are portrayed. Older actors express the disillusionment of aging brilliantly… accepting one is not getting back some things they’ve lost, not going to become some things they dreamed of becoming. This, alongside of intensely bright youthful memories.

There’s a phrase a wise friend introduced me to: nostalgia for the present. Even the brightest memories are not complete; if they were, they wouldn’t be quite so bright. There are angles we edit out to isolate the strongest dose of what’s needed in a given moment as we flip through those channels. Nostalgia for the present sees that it isn’t really the past, or redoing of the past one is craving. It is about genuine peace with the present, taking in ‘the whole catastrophe’. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at once. In fact it’s vital.

There’s a story to continue to tell here, about the other side of the coin re permeable boundaries, mandalas of connection, and how to love, even so.

gestures and thin moments

In line at the market, buying writing icing for the Congratulations cake we bought to mark successful getting of the big job by a family friend (intensive process they went through beforehand, getting a hotel to prep, for weeks, basically falling off-grid). An older gentleman looks back to ask if I’m in a hurry, gesturing that seeing I have so little, he would let me go ahead. I explain I just have “I’m in a hurry” energy, whether in a hurry or not, which gains a chuckle all around. I’m not sure it’s true, but it might be.

Everyone works through the line. All is pleasant, normal.

By the time I reach my car however, I’m feeling highly sensitive. I look around and see many older people walking slowly, carefully. Some help one another. I felt sore most of the morning, a little worried about how work might go later, but now I’m standing still, just deeply wondering how anyone manages at all. Everyone seems so frail. I watch the well-mannered gentleman get into his vehicle–a van that may act as a small bus, although signage isn’t clear–and realize he must spend portions of his day sitting, waiting.

I’m not waiting, but I’m not going anywhere, either.

Trying to put my finger on this sampling of experience, I’ll call what occurred ‘all-in-the-same-boat-ness’. It was profoundly strange, a little Lynchian even. I’ll resist the urge to attach meaning or value, just remark that it was certainly thin. A few times this week I noticed, more exactly than usual, rippling effects of small gestures into undulating patterns, noticed how I can’t precisely tie them together, but as in this case, find myself in a wide mind then look back to trace steps. This gentleman’s gesture slowed everything down. I was reminded to appreciate the whole scene and all appearing in it, including me, as a shimmering mirage. Everything, including the fragileness and pain became ‘wonderful’, in a way. ‘Wonderful’ expanded its meaning.

While I know I’m still to some extent drawing the lines myself, in TSK terms, I’m also asking to see that the level as changed by asking when that so-called change occurred. Of course it never did. “When” is a straw man.

preoccupations

Body is getting ready to work at the store, second day back after a month’s leave. Mind hasn’t quite caught up; it floats like a balloon a little behind, working through the thousand half-teachings ingested while on break. To soothe mind, I suggest we lean into appreciation instead, let understanding tend to itself.

Which jostles loose the preoccupation.

I arrive to work on time, overriding compulsively early tendencies. No car meditation; instead I listen to Lady Gaga’s Born this Way to get into some mood. It’s one of a handful of songs that take the edge off, let me ease into a more public persona, along with Shania’s Up!, or ABBA’s I Still Have Faith in You. Tier B is a slightly different vibe, with Barbra singing On a Clear Day You Can See Forever or Judy’s The Trolley Song. Once in a while, NCT’s Baby Don’t Stop hits the right spot. Or, despite my efforts to resist, BTS.

You get the idea.

People think I’m joking when I set goals not to arrive to places early, assuming this to be a humble-brag, but shifting gears has always been a challenge for me, no matter how fond I am of bardo teachings. In fact, this is probably why I’m so fond of them. The buffers I install around modes and roles become modes and roles themselves, which isn’t really a problem until a small meeting requires large buffers, squeezing out other worthy things. I would be well on the way with my knitting project if instead of arriving too early to a tiny check-in-and-fix with my teacher, I simply risked being a few minutes late.

Although several diagnoses might be suggested by such tendencies, my therapist never goes there. Instead she often praises the toolbox I’ve built for myself. The car can be a great place for meditation, after all. Having worked with, and having friends on the non-neurotypical spectrum, has also imparted perspective.

Unrelated, I’m reminded of this song’s title:

One Such Day

I grew up within biking distance of Fairchild Tropical Gardens, a place ordinary to my childhood which I now consider sacred and a miracle—a refuge in a green-starved city.

There are days I, without intention I recall, find myself sitting on a bench under these trees, snapping photos of shadows plays made by their branches, reading the openings and winds.

Yesterday was one such day

Wishing Grove tree

Turiya, Turiyatita

Andrew Holocek on Buddha at the Gas Pump. So many wonderful quotes, but his passionate interest in dream yoga is why I’ve read some of his books several times. I may not lucid dream much these days, but the interview was a spark ignited to remember this way of being.

“Awareness of Being, is bliss.” Nisargadatta

I’ve felt a little shamed out of sharing dreams over time, concerned doing so was full of self, rather language to study with others inclined. I do actually believe, as many teachers do, that dreaming can be a rich practice ground, coupled with view, yet know that becoming fixated on what dreams mean to “me, my fortune, etc.” solidify rather than liberating experience. Over-editing what one shares may be as much of an issue.

Whether small amounts of practice in sleep are equivalent to large amounts of time in other kinds of meditation as some say, I’m less sure of. “Dreaming is code language for manifestation of mind” Andrew says, and an awakened one (Buddha) wouldn’t experience dreaming and daily life differently. They might live life itself as a malleable dream-like reality.

Gyuma Chenmo

This wonderful image and description is from Okar Research Blog, which I highly recommend glancing at:

Gyuma Chenmo (Dream-Dakini)….is the Dakini of dream., invoked and visualized in dream yoga-practice in the Ma Gyu (Mothertantra).

Maha Vishnu (tangentially related and also I just loved this image)

A few new-to-me terms came up in the interview. as well I’ve studied very little Hinduism or even Advaita Vedanta, but it comes up along the way.

Turiya
In Hindu philosophy, turiya (Sanskrit: तुरीय, meaning “the fourth”) or chaturiya, chaturtha, is pure consciousness. Turiya is the background that underlies and pervades the three common states of consciousness. The three common states of consciousness are: waking state, dreaming state, and dreamless deep sleep.

Turiyatita – state of integration where awareness is never lost [“beyond fourth”] /
pure consciousness/non-dual awareness

Turīyātīta (तुरीयातीत):—Pratyabhijñā claims that the state of perfection achieved by its sādhana is beyond and above the turīya, the “fourth state” of the Upaniṣads: it is Turīyātīta, Śiva-consciousness, in which the individual experiences the self as identical with the entire universe and with Śiva.
[Wikipedia]

Turiya, also called Chaturtha is the stage of transcendental consciousness where the individual experiences ultimate reality and truth. This state is inexperienced by the five senses and indescribable, incomprehensible by the mind which is tied to continuous cycle of births. The transcendental mind is within itself a possibility of creating anything and everything that mind conceives and the possibilities are infinite. In this state the individual experiences the sleepless sleep or bliss, witnessing similarities of macrocosm and microcosm and is well aware of the union of Self and Absolute. Here the individual is aware of his own consciousness but remains in object-subject relationship with the world around. This is intermediate Savikalpa Samadhi.
 
Turiyatita or Chidakasa is the stage where the Self ceases to function since the ‘mind-space’ transforms itself into mindless-space in absolute spirituality, which never manifests itself. At this point, there is no question of return to oneself, since it becomes one with the Supreme by the grace of unmanifested spirituality and obliterates dualism. Here there is selflessness, no-mind, no-duality the object-subject relationship disapear. This is ultimate, highest state of non-dual union with ones own consciousness this is Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/five-stages-of-consciousness

I couldn’t help but hear Krishnamurti in this. There’s also a section in I AM THAT where Nisargadatta describes knowing himself as timelessness. “Timelessness” he said, “knows time, but time can’t know timelessness.” (You can’t get there from here.)

There’s an ‘ocean is also in the drop’ argument that might be made, but maybe another day. 🙂

Pokemon Bardo

If the meditator is able to use whatever occurs in his life as the path,
his body becomes a retreat hut.
~ Jigme Lingpa

So, for all my listening to Buddhist audios and contemplating bardos, when I came out from under anesthesia I was playing Pokemon rather than chanting mantras or meditating on bliss! My fingers were pushing buttons of a (nonexistent) video game controller as I emerged, solving who knows what. Funny.

So funny.

I had tried to let the process be a micro run-through of what many say it is like to die [entering alone], attempting a sample of mind. I did see that although loneliness doesn’t have to be the case–my great grandmother talked to angels in her hospital room before passing–there did seem to arise stark aloneness for me beforehand, and with that, anxiety.

Pronouncing the aloneness was indifference of medical staff talking over my head about how long or short their shifts were, which ones were unlucky in getting which patients. An anesthesiologist asked for music preference; I began to chime in, but it wasn’t me she wasn’t asking. I wasn’t there as a person to interact with.

There was also the pre-registration question of religious affiliation, to which I answered “None”, then questioned what I might have said. As much as we live in a time when everyone easily professes to be meditating or doing yoga, Buddhism still gives pause.

Still, I should probably have some answer. I’ve accepted that the death process described in Buddhist texts is not possible for most lay practitioners in the US (especially those outside of near Buddhist community), and part of me thinks, that being so, what does it matter if a priest or rabbi comes to my bedside? Perhaps any stranger with a kind heart will do, or a “none”, like me.

(I wanted to be a nun when a child, until told that was just for Catholics.). 😉
Buddhism didn’t arrive on my radar until I was at least 17.

Another take-away is that I’m actually less guarded than I thought. I love the wise humor of a Pokemon game mingling with bardo teachings; it feels like a mischievous lesson about lightening up! The bardo course isn’t so different from a modern video game if you think about it… meeting monsters, discerning false leads, not going this way but that, keeping a clear mind sans panic, etc.

“Don’t worry, there is nothing real about your confusion.” ~ Lojong