Mala Shop

Monday, June 15, 2009

Joyful to have, such a human birth, difficult to obtain, free and well favored

Mingyur Rinpoche blesses a student

The infamous Penny Lane sleeps

Seems like this year my mind has been wholly preoccupied with the four thoughts. 
Joyful human birth
Impermanence and death
Cause and Effect and the law of Karma
The Sufferings of Samsara (Being caught in the "cyclic existence" of birth, old age, and death.)

These are called the "Ordinary Preliminaries" of the Longchen Nyingtik, a foundation practice in many forms of Tibetan Buddhism.  You can read more about them in The Words of My Perfect Teacher. (I know this isn't for everyone. But I love it and it's a fundamental text in Tibetan Buddhism.)

Last week I contemplated Impermanence.  A lot. Now I'm dwelling less on that and more on how lucky we are to be alive.
We have all of these chances to "get it right". 

Sitting in the garden today by my newly-planted little patch of posies, I am grateful.  The border collie puppy (Penny Lane) pretty much destroyed the yard after we got her in January.  She killed the grass and dug out our plants.  We didn't care that much because we were too busy trying to train her not to bite us, either in play or when she felt disobedient and angry.  And she had horrible dental infections that probably came from chewing on rocks, bricks, and cement. Luckily she was highly motivated to please us and learn, so she rarely bites now. But now she's dealing with a long term soft tissue infection in her jaw.  Poor suffering beast!  That really brings home how lucky we are to be born human. We can say where it hurts—we can ask for help.  But, strangely enough, she gets better health care than many Americans, which is quite sad.  The vet spends an infinite amount of time explaining her condition to me, more than any other doctor I've ever met!  

After Penny decimated the yard, we put in another lawn and planted some posies for my daughter's high school graduation celebration.  A few years ago it seems I was nursing her, now she's on her way to college.  Now I can sit in my favorite place, the garden, when I meditate.  So my home is restful again, for which I am, yes, GRATEFUL!

I also have many of the advantages that can come with having a human birth: that of being able to practise Dharma, having been born in a time when a Buddha has taught, having met a qualified teacher, being able to understand and appreciate the teachings, and many more.

The teachings are all about taming the mind and developing compassion.  The more I learn how to do that, the better I seem to be able to handle everything that happens, "good" or "bad", and turn it into a growth experience.  "Taking all obstacles onto the path."  I just get happier and happier, even when metaphorical rocks are falling on my head.  It doesn't matter so much, everything being impermanent and somewhat illusory in nature.

So, yeah.  I'm grateful.  So everlastingly grateful.  Life couldn't possibly be any better, whatever happens.


libu said...

if you feel you need guidance with regard to the pup...I like Victoria Stilwell " It's me or the dog" tv show... I think she has the best training advise.. I got an Austailian cattle dog mix that ou would assume to be very high energy and as active as you have described..but I was lucking and survived the puppy stage. but I got him at 5 months and not 2 or 3 months old....good luck with the pup

Jan said...

Hi Laura,
I followed some threads (from Iridescent Dark, I think) to find you here and I am thrilled. As a student of Buddhism, I am always on the lookout for virtual sangha members. :-) Your malas are absolutely stunning and I am sure you will be hearing from me in the future about an order. I've put you on my blog roll and will be back often.

BTW, I've read the book you mention in your opening and absolutely loved it, love his writing...Right now I am enjoying The Lost Art of Compassion by Lorne Ladner.

Oh, yes, though I do not have a pup I do have a daughter who just completed her first year in college, so I absolutely resonate with gaining the peace and quiet of my home back again. :-) Blessings to you. Jan

Laura said...

libu, that is a great book! I have it. Yes, things are getting easier as Penny leaves the puppy stage. You were smart to wait until your dog was 5 months old to get him.

Take care.