Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lokavagga: Worlds

I must be in a sour mood, because I am getting annoyed as I read the Lokavagga. I do feel out of sorts. I went down to Boystown to watch the Halloween parade, and I suppose I should have felt festive; it will be another seven years before Halloween will be on a Saturday again. There were plenty of people in some fantastic costumes all set to have a good time. But I couldn’t connect with any of it.

I took the El back to the Rockwell station where my car was parked, then drove home. Then I look up the next chapter in the Dhammapada and I see the Lokavagga and I feel like what’s the point?

“Don’t associate with lowly qualities.
Don’t consort with heedlessness.
Don’t associate with wrong views.
Don’t busy yourself with the world.”

Maybe, you think, I am already feeling the distance from the world that the Buddha taught we should strive for. But that’s not what I feel.

“Get up! Don’t be heedless.
Live the Dhamma well.
One who lives the Dhamma
sleeps with ease
in this world & the next.

Live the Dhamma well.
Don’t live it badly.
One who lives the Dhamma
sleeps with ease
in this world & the next.”

No, what I feel now is emptiness and a sense of frustration. Old feelings are coming back and I sense some kamma is nearing fruition. It makes me uncomfortable.

“See it as a bubble,
see it as a mirage:
one who regards the world this way
the King of Death doesn’t see.”

But it’s not a mirage. Pain and loneliness are real. I don’t want to dwell in such thoughts, but there they are.

“Come look at this world
all decked out
like a royal chariot,
where fools plunge in,
while those who know
don’t cling.”

I would have liked to do some plunging into the world tonight, but at the same time I felt so distant. And again, it’s not because I have managed to attain the proper mental attitude for regarding the world and its delusions. Rather, it’s that sense of apathy that arises after you lost something very dear to you – or someone.

“Who once was heedless,
but later is not,
brightens the world
like the moon set free from a cloud.

His evil-done deed
is replaced with skillfulness:
he brightens the world
like the moon set free from a cloud.”

I like these verses, as I feel like a moon obscured by a cloud. Or rather, a completely overcast sky. But it will pass, I know that. It just takes so damn long.

The final verses really don’t mean anything to me. They touch nothing within me. Instead, I want to feel the excesses of the world, I want to take another plunge and feel the fleeting bliss of pleasure, even though I know it won’t last. And despite that desire, something within me holds me back, a realm of melancholy that feels too comfortable at the moment.

As much as I want at times to feel the safety net of the Dhamma, there are times like these when things just plain suck. And I’m OK with things sucking right now.

1 comment:

  1. I've had experiences of muck rising to the surface during an extensive look at a particular teaching. Maybe this is true for you as you're digging through the Dhammapada. Hang in there.