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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, March 28, 2012

Rambling Thoughts

My time as care taker of the Great Retreat is rapidly coming to an end. I spent my first year at DMU coming back and forth between terms. I'd camp for a month in a tent then pack it up and head east to make money as an itinerant house painter. The next two years I had the luxury of a home in Bowie while we were building cabins in the most difficult terrain I had ever worked in. All the while, I was studying and meditating on material that is hard to describe in one word. The collection of texts from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is profound, alarming, ridiculous, provacitive, painfully beautiful, intense, scary, Holy, familiar, strange, boring, practical, hysterical, contradictory, perfect, rock solid logically, open to interpretation. You can use it as medicine or as a poison. It's like every other religion or spiritual path and nothing like them. It makes valid every other Path while tooting it's own horn. It has every reason to toot it's own horn. For some people, it's just what the doctor ordered.
Looking back at all of this is over whelming. It was like being in therapy for four years and the therapy worked. Except it was free and I didn't know I was in therapy because I was working too hard and having too much fun. Which is the only way I would have ever gone to therapy.
I was taking my laundry over to my man, Johneo's, house to hang on his line. My line is too shaded. I looked toward Diamond Mountain in the distance. I thought to myself "I had to come here to become ok with myself. I'm the same person I was four years ago but now I'm at peace with myself." I am, in some ways, through some lenses, a "worse" person then I was four years ago. I was sober and vegetarian for seven years. Not anymore. I have vows against intoxication and harming life. I willfully and conflictedly break them on a regular basis. I'm alright with it. I'll take the hit. It's what I need to do now and it will no doubt change. That's who I am. I would rather live in a world where I'm so naturally high that I don't need a drug to do it for me. I would love to go to the super market and just not have the option of buying organic, free range bison ground beef. I should even know better. I know how animals are treated in factory farms. I know what it's about. I've ripped the heads off freshly killed chickens, plucked them, sliced them open and cleaned them. I helped raise a bunch of steer from babyhood only to round him up later, watch him tremble with fear as he smelled the other steer we had butchered behind the barn, blow his brains out, cut off his head, and help tug his innards out onto the frozen ground. And then I ate him. It felt wrong and it felt right. If I was smart I'd distance myself from that culture as much as I could. The karmic blow back from that sort of thing is going to be hard. But I'm not smart. I'm not a raw food eating, vegan, leather avoiding, non alcohol drinking yogi. Nope. I am what I am and how can I help you. I also know that this could change at any moment and will. Everyone and everything is constantly changeing. We'll keep on changing until we die. My favorite mantra is "I'm wrong."
Whenever I write in this blog I want to tell you details of the care taker experience. I stop myself because none of it is important and most of it is just gossip. The care takers are a bunch of normal people doing the same thing with different motivations. We mostly get a long and work well together. Sometimes we act like fools and let each other down with how we treat one another. It's like a slightly disfunctional relationship. The point is to grow together. I don't know if everyone up there thinks of it that way. It doesn't really matter. As long as I think of it that way then that is my work. That's the best and only thing I can do.
I have to wrap it up. I've got a lot more to say and I'll save it for later posts. If you are out there and are supporting this retreat, thank you. Serving it has already changed my life and I can only imagine what it is doing for people inside the retreat. It's an insane, audatious, holy undertaking. Two more years to go. come out and get a piece of it before it's over. It will never happen this way again. I'm pretty sure the larger American buddhist community will not even take notice. You're not going to read about it in Madala, Tricycle, or Shambala magazine. Course, we don't really read their stuff so I guess I know where that comes from.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Parable made Real

I had the great fortune to play music with my friend Jarrett while his Lady, Mira, taught yoga at Yo downtown this weekend. I like to do asana but I admit I like playing for yoga classes more. Jarrett and I played guitar and the students sweated. At the end of the class, while the students were in corpse pose, I was looking out the window. I was thinking of a friend who is having a very difficult time lately. I was thinking of all the people that that situation touches. I got a little lost in the pain of the whole thing. Then something amazing happened. I'll preface it with a story.
There's an old story my teacher told once. What point he was illuminating at the time is lost to me right now. The story is as follows. A man was walking through the jungle and suddenly realized that he was being stalked by a huge tiger. He quickened his pace and started looking for a way to evade the beast. He saw a tree with branches pushing out over a sheer cliff only big enough for him. This refuge could keep the tiger at bay. He crawled out on the limb and settled in. The tiger came out into the open and paced around the base of the tree. Suddenly, the tree branch tore away from the tree and the man had to hang on for life. He looked down, thinking he could drop to the bottom of the cliff and survive but saw to his horror another tiger below him waiting for him to fall. He looked up to the edge of the cliff and saw the first tiger looking down at him and snarling. Horror above, horror below. He then saw a small wild strawberry plant within arms reach on the cliff with a ripe berry. He reached out, plucked the berry, and ate it with much happiness and relish.
So I was looking out the window in a downtown Tucson yoga studio, falling into the pain of my friends situation, when I noticed an ivy vine clinging to a high post outside. The sky was blue and gentle. The grey metal post was covered in an elegant vine of green ivy. Each leaf was so perfect and small. I could hear the cars go by and the people's voices outside. Inside the room all was quiet relief of corpse pose. I put myself in one of the curls of the ivy vine. I suddenly felt an enormous peace. In that space with the leaves and the sky and the post was utter stillness and peace. There was no war, no famine, no politics, no drama, no pain. The leaves were healthy despite the pollution of the cars and the dryness of the desert. I became so happy in that moment. It was remarkable. I plan on cultivating that feeling for the rest of my life. Since completing my year of care taking, I've had a lot of these sort's of first-time moments in regards to mental states. I'm still going up to DMU to serve when I can but I am free now to go when I need to. I'll go up tomorrow to deliver food. They are tucked into a long two month deep retreat period up there, I believe. This next year will be the quietest for them, I think. The time when some big meditative shifts will occur. It's very exciting.