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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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The folks in retreat are in a deep retreat period right now. The caretakers like these periods because it means we do not do maintenance projects in the valley nor do we deliver large packages. We only deliver groceries and take out the trash. The other day, I went up and helped Ven. Chandra do some mouse proofing at Jamyang house. There are many little gaps in that house that the mice use as entrances into the house. We got most of them, I think. We put in some base board, sewed a patch into a window screen, and did a lot of caulking and gap sealing. I long to paint the rest of that place. We only had funds to renovate three rooms. There are still two bathrooms, an office, a kitchen, a hallway, and the commissary to do. Alas, we of little funding must make do. Some people at the camp ground are trying to organize to repair the earth bag kiva structure behind Jamyang. It needs a new coat of earth plaster. Good luck ya'll. I realized that I am very happily never going to dig another hole or sift anymore dirt by hand at Diamond Mountain. Three years of that sort of thing cured me of ever wanting to do it again.
My year of service to the Great Retreat is almost over. I'll leave in January if everything goes well. I'm not sure where I'll go yet. I have been living in a sort of half retreat mode for the last ten months. Well, a quarter-retreat mode maybe. I see very few people, am quiet most the day, and think mostly about service. I have ended up serving people outside of retreat in ways I had not anticipated as well. I have found that helping people can sometimes be not so straight forward. Helping someone can also be enabling them to continue an unhealthy lifestyle, like buying an alcoholic a six pack. What I have gleaned from these experiences is that one has to keep thinking critically each moment. My personal "spiritual" motivation may be good but I have to really pay attention to the person or situation that I am helping in. I cannot go on bodhisattva cruise control. Really helping people, I think, requires knowing them really well and then determining if your actions are really helping them or just enabling their self destructive behavior. Self destructive behavior is not always simple to define either. It can be very subtle. Personally, I feel like I have planted some of my most self destructive mental seeds when I was trying to recover from a break up with a girlfriend. I would spend weeks repeating negative messages about myself in my head and out loud to those who were trying to help me. Some of those who were listening to me and letting me repeat these negative messages were no doubt doing it out of a real desire to help me. At some point it becomes enabling. I was lucky in that some of my friends were very skillful and moved my self pity to self inquiry. They didn't even call it Self Inquiry, which was brilliant because at the time I would have not liked that sort of thing. "Just listen to me whine and bathe in my all encompassing self pity" I would have cried out after three solid months of doing just that.
For me, it's a new thing to be someone who is not the one totally falling apart inside. I fully credit working and studying with my teachers out here at DMU for pointing me to this inner place. I went to see old friends recently in Colorado. They knew me long before I ever even heard of dharma or buddhism. One friend asked me if I saw a pattern in the way that studying at DMU helps some people. I said that I do see a pattern for some of us. It sort of worked like this for me. It starts with a kind of falling in love with the people and the motivation of the practice. Then a period of intense study of the inner and outer practices (meditation, yoga, etc). Then you get involved in a project with other people, if you're lucky your teacher is involved. After this point all hell breaks loose. You could say that the "ego" gets mashed up or the heart is broken open. It's too long to get into here. And it doesn't happen in a predictable order or at all, sometimes. All I'll say now is that a softening happens. In this state a person can create and experience more happiness even while working with all the negative things in life. A greater range of happiness become accessible.
The Shell gas station here in Bowie is playing an Alternative radio station for, what I think, is the first time ever. Songs I haven't heard in a decade like "Dissident" by Pearl Jam and cuts by Sublime, Sound Garden, Nirvana and others. Unless you sat here with me for the last ten months listening to old country (which I love) you would not see this as odd. Oh my god, they are playing Nine Inch Nails. The world is truly a mystery.


Blogger Jerry said...

one man's self destructive behavior is another mans hobby.Living next door to Diamond Mountain for years we have run into all types of people.In the beginning a few private detectives and cops spying on you guys,then lost Dharma Tourists, scary transients,people getting ready to join or leave and lost tradesmen.The one thing they all have in common is that they arrived here in the middle of friggin nowhere because of one guys idea....sort of cool

October 25, 2011 11:20 AM  

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