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The Diamond Mountain Blog

This is an unofficial blog of news and info from Diamond Mountain University and Retreat Center which was founded by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Suffer Less

We're having a very windy day here today. By early evening, just before sunset, there is fine dust infused in the air. When you look out over the valley the haze is obvious. As the sun lowers itself in the sky, the light gives color to the haze and also to the clouds above. The clouds started off confused this morning. It was mostly clear but there were these giant UFO shaped clouds thrown sporadically up high. Intermixed with them were the remnants of mare's tail clouds. Behind all of it was a matrix of leftovers. I imagine a single sheet of a cloud watered down then hit with a brush. There were squiggles and broad strokes and exploded contrails of planes making a great V across the sky. And, as has been the case for about a week now, there was the smoke coming from over the range from the wildfires of the Coronado Forests. Now, as the sun sets lower, the clouds have moved in in ernest. Great mountain ranges of clouds line the horizon. Mountains that are exploding on every other peak. Huge sections tossed hundreds of miles off of the main line. A natural disaster in the air that harms no one. All of it now colored orange with blue like a swimming pool above. The wind, being impatient and motivated to some private task has already change things around. Now there are grey rolling cotton balls shot through with silver. Almost a promise of moisture.
Strange feelings pop up in this turbulent weather. I become angry for no reason. Small piles of disorder up at DMU become symbols of a greater disorder. Without prompting, I mourn the loss of manufacturing jobs in America. I suddenly live in a land where we make nothing good yet consume all things regardless of their merit. The people in power are intelligent criminals living in a kind of twilight hell that they don't even know they're in. Or they just don't care. Ultimate form of ignorance. Cruelty refined. Worldly gods devouring their own bodies. Blind, deaf, and dumb. When did I plant the seed for this ugly fruit? How much bigger will it get? The wind, the dry earth blowing away, the smoke from fires unseen but close.
Windy days are always like this for me. It's good in that it really shows where my mind is. The gift of extremes. Despite the tone of the last paragraph I am more happy then I've been in a long time. Sort of in spite of myself. I really should be moping about upset and forlorn but it just won't stick. I think it is the result of what practice I have been able to do in the past four years. Mind training. Against my greatest effort, I suffer less.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quiet Tomes

Tonight I am writing from my own home in Bowie. A combination of new computer and more mysterious factors has lead to almost regular access to the Internet for the first time in the two years I've been in the house. Today I did some work on Jamyang house. I re-attached a section of the gutter to the adobe wall and connected the gutter to the 2,500 gallon tank that sits in the yard. It has been bone dry for a long time now but during monsoon I am curious how much it will fill. We are very dry out here now. For many days now, if you look toward DMU from interstate 10 you will see a cloud system that seems to lift out of the peaks to the east and behind DMU. I am assuming this is smoke from the fires that burn in the Coronado National Park. The fires are not threatening yet to move toward the retreat valley but it reminds me of how dangerously dry we are out here. The winter froze a lot of the moisture out of the plant life and it is very noticeable.
The ants are back. They are finding their way into homes and trailers out here. After not seeing them all winter I'd forgotten about their tenacity and numbers. A group of us went to Lake Roper last Friday and if we were Jains (ultra non violent sect in India. Walk every where, sweep their path with brooms to move bugs) it would have been a night mare. The ground was a carpet of small ants. The lake was dreamy, however. A dust devil rolled right through our picnic area and wreaked havoc. With the fires, parched earth, legions of ants, and wild weather one might get to feeling apocalyptic. To the contrary, I've been feeling good, balanced. I can't say exactly why but I have some ideas.
I'm starting to really understand what a unique and rich life this is. My opportunities and resources are more clear to me lately. The kind of birth I took, as a human, the time in history, the country, the parents, everything. The free time, oh the free time. I never had so much in my life. There is work but after that it's like a retreat here. No social scene. No dating scene. Barely a sound from the neighborhood. Most of the time these absences have been a suffering. Appreciation is now blooming. We'll see how I utilize them.
Small miracles are occurring. Perhaps that's too strong a word. I'll say instead, I feel I'm being helped by others in a manner that is timely to a suspicious degree. More work is popping up which has eased a lot of stress. I want to stay here and serve. Getting paid work is key to staying here.
When I was a kid I would sometimes see cowboys portrayed as quiet mono syllabic types who spent large amounts of time alone in a land scape that dwarfed them and did it's best to thwart their efforts at comfort. I'm starting to get how that personality could come to be out here. I play the guitar lately and no lyrics come. Months and months of lyric drought. There's so much to be said of the landscape out here but how can I say it? Even more to say about this lineage and the teachings but no words come. But if you asked me a question, then that would be different. I have tomes perched at the tip of my tongue.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Yesterday evening, after working at Nicole's house, I stopped in at the camp ground for dinner. There was a good crowed. Viet, Alisha and baby. Alisha's mom, Tahiya. Viet's sister. Scott, Orit, Ron Becker, Ghram, Chuck, Brannan, Melissa who cooked and later Ven. Chandra and Tiana. It's these small informal gatherings that, for me, are one of the high-lights of living in community. Although I don't live there on the camp ground, I am part of the outer circle of DMU life. Good food is wonderful. It calms everyone down. Tensions or perceived tensions evaporate. The retreatants are out of another deep retreat period and we went in to deliver food and the packages that have been piling up for a month. As it gets hotter we are figuring out ways to keep the greens cool while they are transported up. Even 10min in the heat wilts them to the point of being less then appetizing. We will either start using ice or those blue freezer packs.
I'm reading a book of short stories by Wallace Steigler. I think I mis-spelled his last name. My apologies. He writes about life in the early 1900's. His characters are remarkable because of the great depths of emotion they express while saying very little. Some feel like they can't say much because of social convention, others out of fear of reprisal. There is casual cruelty to both people and animals. It made me wonder upon the body count of just the animal beings after after white settlers came to the wild lands of the America's. Animals that were considered pests like ground hogs, coyotes and wolves were killed matter of fact-ly. Even the animals under our 'care'. Thousands of heads of cattle lost to blizzard or drought or just because they were dropped in the middle of a land that could not support them. Then there were the men and women who risked their lives to make a living on that land. It's astounding. Audacious and desperate. The results were in many ways terrible. The native peoples nearly wiped out. The native animal life decimated and in some cases wiped off the face of the earth. The ecosystems poisoned and distorted. And then there's me. I'm sitting at the front of that train with all the weight and momentum of the past behind me and compelling me forward. What do I do with this time I have? Considering the actions of people past and present, the three year retreat no longer seems even a little insane. And if it is then it's just par for course.
The pistachio orchard planted two more huge plots of trees this last eight months. I've only been here about four years but this is the driest I've ever seen it. Many plants and trees died over the winter. Some will come back. But with only fifty years of ground water left at the current use, it seems crazy to plant more trees out here. Our ignorance is an agent to hasten death. It's like facing it is too over whelming and dark. Best to act like nothing is happening and hold off the break down, emotional or environmental. I cannot be too hard on the orchard. I do the same thing day to day in my life. I think of what Ghandi-ji said "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." I would add "or we can expect to see no change in the world what so ever."
There are many wonderful things happening now, I'm not trying to be gloomy. So many people care and are good and do amazing things. Mr. Steigler got me thinking on how complicated it all is. We are all so tied together even if we don't want to be. And there is so little time to figure it all out.