Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Samsara (not the Movie)

The Wheel of Life
"Working only to improve our samsaric life is the misstep of ignorance." 
~ Farmer Monk
 A blogging friend wrote that line in a comment today, and I thought, That cuts like a diamond. That's where all the self-help get-your-life-together books go so wrong. That is it. It doesn't matter what's goals you meet, what's right in your life, if you are not spiritually grounded.  Centered, wise.

I'm going to back up here and explain, because it's sort of heavy-duty Buddhism.  Samsara is. . .
. . . and there I stopped writing a month or so ago.  Now I know why, for I just looked up samsara on Wikipedia.  Many Buddhists and others have contributed their own understanding of this term.  Right away I can see that any definition I give might occasion corrections from those people who are missing out on their life's work, to be fact-checkers.  So you can look up samsara if you like, or be contented with the general idea that samsara is partying, success, money, winning, worldly gain - the hedonic treadmill.  And it's a fact many people don't learn until they're dying, that happiness is not found out there. 
I had to stop writing there again, when I realized the irony of my own vivid hope today that Western psychiatry could swoop in and help me out of this depression, which has reached the disability stage, limiting what I can do.  And indeed, my shrink just returned my phone call, and is recommending a change of medications and a light box.  So two actions, and both might help me. From out there.  From in here, there's always the placebo effect.  It is very good for me when someone I respect says, "I know how to fix it."

In here, my own job is not to ruin my life when I feel like this. Like yell at someone who will never forget it. Put things out into the blogosphere that I am going to have to (try to) delete. Given the generally bleak prognosis for a rapid-cycling bipolar, just not cutting yourself, that's doing pretty good, I guess.


  1. Oh, I also take it back! It's great to improve samsaric conditions...that's why Zen Master Baoche is fanning himself!!

    1. You got me looking around for more on the story of Master Baoche.
      Cursory research suggests that most people interpret it as a metaphor, as in Why should I sit if I'm already enlightened? So it occurred to me to interpret it as an action in the world of form: Baoche was fanning himself because it was hot, and fanning helps sweat and heat evaporate. To me, this is the intimacy we speak of with Zen - throw yourself entirely into the game.

      Maybe unrelated - something many bipolars long for is to pronounce ourselves cured, don't need any medication. Transcend the world of forms, genetic structures, neurochemical paths and switches. I've been there, and had some serious emotional storm surges that I now understand were not "me" but my chemistry. So glad you're out there.

  2. So glad you are, too. First blog I ever followed! Lulu and I muse about coming to meet you someday, or maybe trying to plan a blogger meet up/workshop/retreat!