Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on July 19, 2014

How do I change my mind or does the mind just change and I go along with it? This must be the meditator's version of the free-will argument. Of course the Buddhist answer is "interdependence." Everything is interdependent. In the last analysis we are living in our own dream, watching our own projections. But, as they say, we don't realize that, at least I don't.

For example, how is it that I go along with my life willy-nilly and then one day just up and re-evaluate the whole thing, often ending up heading off in another direction. Certainly, if we study our consciousness even remotely, it is clear that everything cycles. Things go up and down. We can claim to be the victim of cycles or we can learn to surf them as best we can. At the very least we can work with the cycles that be and learn to use them. Otherwise we fall into the dark psychological category of being masochistic, letting the flow of life drag us along rather than meeting it halfway.

I always have loved the Christian phrase "Go to meet your maker." I am not a theist, meaning simply that I feel I am 100% a part of whatever is going on, i.e. there is no one upstairs pulling strings. I have to learn to do that myself, but I do believe in being pro-active with the creative forces. You can call it God, the Creator, or whatever you want. I believe in taking life into our own hands, and I don't mean suicide either.

I have never liked the idea of being dragged through life only because I did not make an effort to work with it, but expected someone else to do it for me. I grew up with the slogan that some folks think "The world owes them a living" and they are waiting for a handout, for someone on a white horse to come along and save them. This to me is an apt description of a masochist. And I am not advocating sadism either, taking life.

Instead I am looking for the so-called "happy medium" (hopefully me!), where we don't get dragged through life (masochism) or take life (sadism). Instead, we work with the cyclic (and whatever other forces are around us) and, as I mentioned earlier, go to meet our maker… halfway. We do our best. But to do this, we need tools.

As for me, I tried very hard with the western tools of philosophy and psychology which, while very heady and intriguing, at long last had no real method. They talked a good line, but offered no step-by-step program to get anywhere. And I studied western occultism, in detail, and learned a great deal, but again: there was no methodology that was practical for regular folks like me. It was just not to be had.

And I looked into some of the Hindu methods, where there was more of a method, but they were just not my style. It was only when I came across the very practical approach that the Tibetan Buddhists take, which is nothing but a method or path. That is all the dharma is. Yes, there are concepts and ideas that go along with it, like karma, impermanence, etc., but I was never a stranger to those thoughts anyway.

The hard part for me was getting started. For all my talk and search for methods, I kind of hated school and that included any kind of step-by-step practice or learning. What made it all possible was the incredible life-savvy and sheer kindness of the Tibetan lamas, the Rinpoches, who were not bothered one whit that I was a difficult person, someone with real baggage. That attitude on their part made all the difference, actually being accepted for what I was, rather than what I should be.

What was most amazing to me is that the teacher I have worked with all these years, never blinked on meeting me. He knew right off who I was, what liabilities I brought with me, and none of that fazed him. He was willing to have me start where I was, and this is pretty much standard among the Tibetan teachers. Any place is a good place to begin. Right? Makes perfect sense, but try and find someone who actually lives that! I never felt penalized for my faults, but they were not encouraged either.

I had kind of been waiting all my life for someone to look me in the eye and say "I know you. You are one of us!" It was clear from the first instant that I was welcome, just as I was. "Come as you are" is the phrase that comes to mind. From that point onward, it was all about showing me how I could become more aware, if I wanted to. Buddhism is always at our own speed, because we each have to do it all ourselves. We have to do the work.

In the dharma I found a method and a path that actually worked for me.

[Photo taken earlier today.]