Imaginal

I set out to do a few restful-yet-meaningful things while out on a leave this month. Yet, surprise surprise, found several other rabbit holes instead, all of which led predictably back into my comfort zone of philosophy/creativity. The hook this time, was serendipity, looking into what progress might have been made on a study exploring such since last I checked (nothing that I could find). See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01405-7

This scientist identified a few ways serendipity seems to come about, an intriguing one of which of which is ‘controlled sloppiness’. The word itself traces back to a 1700s Persian fairy tale about The Three Princes of Serendip who were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” (Wikipedia) The description conjures a Monty Python skit, doesn’t it? Or something along the lines of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

I found a few podcasts, which led to audio books (I’d recommend The Flip as pretty okay with flaws), which I listened to while playing Archeus, a Pokemon game. 🙂 I then wandered over to Audible again and for laughs thought to look at Tibetan Buddhist offerings (I had low expectations). One can easily find Pema Chodron or a few others on audio, but what I wanted was something in keeping with my theme: imagination-based, tantric.

And what do you know, there are a few books by Lama Thubten Yeshe, even free with my Audible membership; the one I’m reading so far is perfect! Well, perfect without being perfectly read, for instance “Rinpoche” is pronounced “Rinposhe” throughout. Once you consider how often that word is used in any Tibetan Buddhist context, you’ll understand it is no small issue. 🙂 However, the pronunciation soon felt like a small price to pay for the wisdom that unfolded, resonated, soothed. It even became endearing after a while.

It’s an odd thing, but probably not as unusual as it feels to me, that I’ve never finished preliminary practices in a concerted way. I fell in love with certain mantras and visualizations, have practiced those fervently at times. Nevertheless, I’ve also been unusually fortunate in teachers and spiritual friends, some who have practiced traditionally for multiple decades, others who have beautifully cobbled together practices of their own. Life keeps giving me a lot to take in and far too much to narrow down, endless windfalls.

I want to remember something stated strongly in the book: Empowerment (ritual) only activates what is already there. The practices are about allowing allowing. Whether or how I do them is about my own receptivity, whether I give myself permission… sabbath for man rather than man for the sabbath, etc.

A favorite market, now shuttered and grafittied. The photo fittingly a blur of change taking place in time.

I once asked a teacher to help me grok the idea of karma in more than a zero-sum, exchange-level sense. It was early on and I’d not yet learned much about dependent co-origination. Even if I had, all that would have changed about my question is that I would have articulated it with more complexity and confidence.

What I wanted to understand was the experience of karma to a person, viewing their own life, but what I said was something like “A grand blossoming tree, heavy with fruit, grows healthily in the same grove another withers. Why?”

Perhaps I should have asked, “What’s a good way to work with the uneven and contradictory way (my) karma appears?”

“Appears” is a key word here. Being presented with a paradox/puzzle is a signal to grapple with non-duality; one is being asked to stay with a koan long enough to see meaning evolve. That’s tantra. The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa talks a lot about the “stubbornly persistent illusion” of karma and time, without using those terms, but I hear it. There’s even a me who groks it… the me who believes cultivating the inner garden comes first, trusts doing so. She’s the Mary, of ‘Mary and Martha’ fame, who leaves the guests and dirty dishes for later while Jesus speaks.

Something could be said of apples and oranges.

Published by Stephanie Beth

I write about meditation, inquiry and play!

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