Today I just have to talk about “When Things Fall Apart” again. (Pema Chodron.) Yesterday turned out to be a rough day. I was in physical pain from the trainer who came into my office on Wednesday and I did just a few too many squats and leg lifts, so I couldn’t walk very well. I find that whenever I don’t feel very well, I can’t really cope when I start to feel blue.
And then there’s the political sadness, i.e. the passage of the wire tapping bill which was approved…by pretty much everyone, including Obama and Clinton. And the stock market, and people losing jobs, and the mortgage mess, and the environment, and Iraq and all the wars around the world, and so many horrors that we can’t even imagine. Basically, pretty much everything was getting to me yesterday.
So I went into the park with my two wonderful dogs, Lucy and Lola, and slowly sat down on my little blanket because I could hardly bend. I looked up at the trees and the sky and it was truly a perfect summer day. And normally I would be so happy on a day like yesterday, but I wasn’t and I couldn’t seem to get out of it. So I had “When Things Fall Apart” and the chapter I was up to was “Eight Worldly Dharmas” – which are basically four pairs of opposites – four things that we like and become attached to and four things that we don’t like and try to avoid. These are: pleasure and pain, loss and gain, fame and disgrace and praise and blame – and “the basic message is that when we are caught up in the eight worldly dharmas, we suffer.
“We can already see that many of our mood swings are related to how we interpret what happens. Words are spoken, letters are received, phone calls are made, food is eaten, things appear or don’t appear.”
I realized that a conversation I had with my sister about my mother, which was designed to make me feel guilty, was probably what set me off. And everything else was icing on the cake of misery.
“We want to know our pain so we can stop endlessly running. We want to know our pleasure, so we can stop endlessly grasping. Then somehow our questions get bigger and our inquisitiveness more vast. We want to know about loss so we might understand other people when their lives are falling apart. We want to know about gain so we might understand other people when they are delighted or when they get arrogant and puffed up and carried away.”
“We start understanding that, just like us, other people also keep getting hooked by hope and fear. Everywhere we go, we see the misery that comes from buying into the eight worldly dharmas. It’s also pretty obvious that people need help and there’s no way to benefit anybody unless we start with ourselves…..”
“… but it’s not just for ourselves. It’s for our companions, our children, our bosses — it’s for the whole human dilemma.”
I can’t say that I immediately felt better after reading this, but I didn’t feel so alone. I looked around at the other people in the park and wondered what attachments they were feeling and what disappointments. And then I got an ice cream cone and went out last night to be with other people. And then I felt quite a bit better.