Dec. 12th, 2009

zana16: om symbol (om)
One of the things I really miss about having a writing group is the moment where somebody points to something in my writing and I go, Huh. I really *did* write what you're saying, I just didn't realize it. Cool! (Which actually happened twice with my Pros story, once in beta and once in feedback.)

Today I had something similar happen in a religious context. This weekend is our Vajrasattva retreat, which happens once a year. Buddha Vajrasattva is the purification Buddha; doing his sadhana prayers, visualization, etc., purifies negative karma.

We did three sessions, going through the prayers, with focus of meditation in different places (and holy crap did I freak out when I read on the schedule that the second session included forty minutes of mantra recitation*). I decided that I wanted to purify the karma that gives rise to my trouble with faith. Yes, this means I was saying prayers to Buddhas I do not entirely buy into, for help to buy into them. (Flashbacks to Advanced Spanish Lit in highschool, reading Miguel de Unamuno's "Prayer of the Atheist," trying to explain to my [Catholic] teacher why, as an atheist [then], this poem really spoke to me.)

Part of the visualization is having Buddha Vajrasattva dissolve into your central channel, becoming one with you and purifying your negativity. By the third session, I was getting better at the visualization, and white light was purifying the gray smoke pervading my heart center, and I was abruptly brought to a passage I wrote years and years ago:

Yes, I wrote this when I was, like, fifteen, but it's relevant, I swear. )

And I flashed back to that as I was burning out the oily strands with Vajrasattva's white light, because I was abruptly terrified. Without that, who am I? What makes me me, if not my history? What do I have to hold on to, if I take that away?

If I had faith, I'd have the Buddhas to hold on to, which is what Refuge practice is about. Only, that's the reason I'm there, isn't it? That I don't have faith. And...

The only way I can see to move forward is incrementally, pulling out the oily black strands one by one, seeing if what makes me *me* falls apart; trusting... Trusting that if my heart breaks, it will break *open*. In other words: faith.

A Sangha member at the Highest Yoga Tantra retreat this summer said that she, Isabel, could never reach enlightenment, because to become enlightened she will have to transform herself into another being, a pure being who is not Isabel; because by definition, Isabel is not pure.

Change is f*ing scary, yo. Becoming a better person, a happier person even... it doesn't seem like it should be this terrifying. But there you have it.



*Yes, I was contemplating a month-long mantra-counting retreat. Clearly, I was insane.

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