Be Yourself


In Nostalgic Mood – TYH

“One evening Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, only to find it filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the joint. He knew about non-duality of self and other, but he still didn’t quite know how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were just a projection of his own mind—all the unwanted parts of himself—he didn’t know how to get rid of them. So first he taught them the dharma. He sat on this seat that was higher than they were and said things to them about how we are all one. He talked about compassion and shunyata and how poison is medicine. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then he lost his patience and got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally, he gave up and just sat down on the floor, saying, “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together.” At that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said, “Oh, this one is particularly vicious.” (We all know that one. Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel that’s all we’ve got.) He didn’t know what to do, so he surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, “Just eat me up if you want to.” Then that demon left too.”
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

One of the hardest things about Buddhist thought and study is the idea of total acceptance. Acceptance of self, of circumstance, of bad things happening to good people, of good things happening to horrible fuckwit people,  and of the fact that sometimes everything is wonderful and sometimes everything is terrible and all of it is just how it is. Things come together and then they fall apart again. You have to allow room for sadness and joy, sorrow and elation, ecstasy and despair. Love and loss of love.

Buddhists believe we suffer because of desire, because we desire things to be different. There is no getting around the bad parts, there is no changing the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, and there’s really no getting away from the parts that we hate. It’s fundamentally anti-Western to think we can’t buy or work or earn our way out of pain and suffering. Buddhism says, “Nope. you’re you, and you suck a little, and that’s okay. Get with this and you will be happy forever. Your ego is a superdick.”

It’s anti-American to accept and love yourself, especially your own shortcomings, flaws, and repeated failures. Our entire society and economy are based in the idea that you can lose weight, look younger, fuck longer, and be better in every way, that you must, or you are doomed to be unhappy, fat, lazy, poor, and alone. But, if you only buy the right house and the right car and the right clothes and get the right job and send your kids to the right schools, you will be happy.  If you only work out hard enough and stop eating most food groups, you can have a Victoria’s Secret body that is beach ready all year long. If you just had a bigger house, a better car, lived in a better city, you would be happy.

The pursuit of happiness. Right. All anyone wants is to be happy. Of course. And yet the simultaneous advertising messages of “eat less, drink less, have a perfect body, be young forever” and “buy everything, eat everything, drink everything, do everything as hard as you can, spend all your money because YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH” is a complete and utter mindfuck.

For over a year, I’ve been walking through a field of landmines, trying to figure out a system of how to keep from getting my limbs blown off.  My conclusion is that there is no system. You’re going to lose an arm and a leg and an eye and mostly a heart. You won’t die though. You’ll never die, no matter how long you stand on the edge. As long as you don’t fall off. As long as you don’t jump. You live. You learn, you get stronger and your limbs and eyes and heart grow back laced with scars. You become a tightrope gripping, edge walking, super balancing acrobat. You are the star of your own Cirque du Soleil. But, there’s a price that gets higher every time you go out to stare into the abyss of your own consciousness, each time you go to the dark side and see what’s in there. The math starts to twist out of your favor. Maybe as you get older and wiser, you realize there are other ways to look over the edge. There’s another edge altogether, a higher one that you can only see when you go inside the demon’s mouth and let go of fear.

A friend of mine said to me recently that she is marrying her partner for many reasons, but one of the main ones is because he shows her that there’s a way out of the darkness and the anger. Because love is real, and here, on this earth, in this place, it’s kind of all we have.

It would be easy to give up and jump off the edge. To choose not to hurt ever again. To accept that some pearls are never found. They just sit in the sand and no one ever knows. But the pearl knows. But I won’t.

I believe that the universe speaks to us from a higher place. When you put good things and positvity and kindness and love into yourself and the world, you get those things back in abundance. You get wisdom and messages from life trying to teach you, to speak to you, to tell you which way to go and how to use today to make the tomorrow you desire. You get the people you deserve to have, those who elevate you. There is no one coming to save me. I have to save myself, and I finally know what I have to do. It’s not waiting for a partner, or some external force to make my life how I want it to be. You have to make your own magic. The way of the tortoise is the best way. It’s the way to win. When we keep going, when we accept our demons and stop fighting, when we let go of our fears and insecurities and stop living like we have endless tomorrows, everything becomes simple and easy. When we give of ourselves like it matters, we rise. We levitate. We are higher beings. And everything is suddenly possible.

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