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Thread: BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 36

  1. #1

    BOOK OF EQUANIMITY - Case 36

    Case 35 never ends, yet now comes ...

    Case 36: Baso's Illness

    We all get sick, and judge (quite natural and reasonable for us to do so, mind you) that healthy is better than sick. After all, healthy is a lot more pleasant than sick!

    Some live long and some live short, and we judge (as seems right to do for most lives) that long is better than short.

    On another thread today, we discussed how "small" seems less important than "big".

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post124149

    We think Buddha is better than "sentient beings", and "common" and "holy" are apart.

    But are these the only ways to experience things? What if we drop judgments like "better, worse or equal" ... and just flow? Beyond and right through "better worse or equal". You would be quite wrong if you believe that the result of doing so is just some neutral "stiff upper lip" gray resignation or hopelessness.

    Sun faced Buddha lives for thousands of years, Moon faced Buddha for but a day ... yet all Buddha, beyond birth and death. When sick Buddha, just be sick Buddha ... cough cough cough, moan moan moan Buddha.

    Even in the hard and unpleasant time, be simultaneously like a clear mirror which welcomes all reflected within ... big and small, beautiful and ugly. The mirror holds the star light and tiny firefly light, gun powder flash and incense light ... all of such.

    And though it is so ... we see the doctor, watch our health, and take the cures we can!

    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-12-2014 at 12:00 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hi all

    For the most part my health is good, however in the last few years my wife has developed some health problems. I can't go into the details, but let's just say I went from having a wife who was able to drive herself and 2 toddlers on a 2 day car trip by herself, to a wife who now is limited to very short trips near our home. This is a very difficult for a strong independent person that my wife is to be suddenly taken off her feet like this. By default, of course it has been difficult for me. "When Mamma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" as the saying goes. This is all the more difficult because although as a health care practitioner I can help many people, some with the exact same problem, I have been unable to really help her.

    Prior to this practice, there would have been constant frustration, fear, blame, worry, self-doubt and self pity as well. Though there are moments when these little monsters pop into my head, this practice has helped me recognize those and not get all caught up in this kind of thinking. I "sweep". Now, I am able to just accept this situation for what it is. We have not given up trying to help her get well, but well/ not well does not live in my mind anymore. What is more, NONE of these reactions to what is happening is really helpful to me being a compassionate spouse to my wife. I have accepted the nature of things as they are, well or not well. I chop herbs carry support. Of course I WANT my wife to be well, for her and for me. Of course we work to try to find solutions. At the same time there is another way of being with this that doesn't throw me off center.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 03-11-2014 at 01:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.

    Gassho, J
    Before Zen I would feel good good and bad bad. Zen helps me drop the bad of the bad bad and the good of the good good where I have just good, just bad. This is the academic answer, my BS answer.... In truth, I don't know If I am more accepting of good and bad.

    I was very ill recently with the Flu which later turned into bronchitis/walking pneumonia. I felt horrible and wanted to die. One day while in bed I was so weak and thought that if I expired right then, It would not be bad. It was very peaceful to know that death might not be such a bad thing. When its time, its time. Just death. Just this. Is my acceptance because of Zen? Don't know and that's OK.

    Gassho, Jishin

  4. #4
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    "Enjoy the non-toothache."

    I don't know who said this, but I think of it a lot. It puts things in perspective, especially if you've experienced several days with a bad toothache.

    I try to keep aware of the abiding Sun-Faced Buddha, but also welcome the Moon-Faced Buddha when he must show. Still the same Buddha, even if the Moon-Faced Buddha brings some anxiety.
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    I wish I could share a lot of wisdom about this but we all have our stuff to deal with and illness is no different. Most things become normalised, given sufficient time, and that can look a lot like acceptance. If I sat without pain it would feel weird. Moon-faced Buddha is just how things are.

    My friend Irina, who brought me to Treeleaf, came up with a lovely saying/mantra when times are hard – "this is what it feels like to be human". It works for me a lot. Why would we expect our experience not to include pain and sickness?

    One thing that illness does offer on the great way is the chance to appreciate that you are not the only one who suffers. Many people feel this way, or worse, and I feel their pain. The Tibetan practice of tonglen (breathing in the pain of others and breathing out joy) can be transformative in this regard, bringing me face-to-face with both my own experience and the experience of others. I feel pain, you feel pain. Not one, not two.

    Gassho
    Andy

  6. #6
    This koan is also rather lovely on the practice of dealing with illness:

    When Dongshan Liangjie was not feeling well, a monastic said, “Master, you are not feeling well. Is there anyone who doesn’t get sick?”
    Dongshan said, “Yes, there is.”
    The monastic said, “Does the person who doesn’t get sick take care of you?”
    Dongshan said, “I have the opportunity to take care of the person.”
    The monastic said, “What happens when you take care of that person?”
    Dongshan said, ‘At that time, I don’t see the sickness.”
    Gassho
    Andy

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.
    In the last weeks I've been going through a "rough patch" (well, there are always things that are worse, I know).
    It is always nice and easy to practice when everything is running smoothly, but I found out that it is during those "bad times" that our useless practise turns out to be not useless at all.
    Yes, it was painful, I did not enjoy it and sometimes I was afraid - yet at the same time there was a calmness. This sounds schizophrenic, I know.
    The best thing to describe it is probably Jundo's image of the light that always shines through. Even during heavy weather, there is always the blue sky behind the clouds and a light shining through.
    I also remembered Kodo Sawaki's saying (which is one of my favorite mantras): "Everything you encounter is your life."
    That's it - this is pain, this is a part of my life for some weeks/months, and I am experiencing it (although I'm not a masochist).

    Things are getting better every day, but a whole new health issue (unrelated to the other) has come up lately. The coming weeks will show what that means, and while I am worried, there is still a sense of peace at the same time.
    Don't know if this makes any sense to you...

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Yes, it was painful, I did not enjoy it and sometimes I was afraid - yet at the same time there was a calmness. This sounds schizophrenic, I know.
    I sometimes describe Zen Practice as the "good kind of healthy schizophrenia!" A "split personality" that is also one beyond one or two.

    Let's sit some Zazen for you and all folks waiting doctors' test results and such.


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I sometimes describe Zen Practice as the "good kind of healthy schizophrenia!" A "split personality" that is also one beyond one or two.

    Let's sit some Zazen for you and all folks waiting doctors' test results and such.


    Gassho, J
    Yes!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  11. #11
    Thank you!


    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  12. #12
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    Last Fall, I went through the death of my beloved cat, Saabo. He showed up at my house as a 4 month old kitten, the day my house was being blessed by my two Zen Master friends. His whole life was like that- magical. He was always the furry buddha in my life. About a year ago, he became ill. He went from a healthy 25 pounds to just 7 pounds when he passed. We still don't know what he died from, he had many things happen including a thyroid tumor. He was only 14 when he died.

    At his last vet visit, they said he was dying and offered to "put him down" right then and there. I lost it. I brought him home and made some last strong attempts at saving him. After a couple of weeks, I finally got it. It was time and there was only one thing to do; spend every moment I could with him, helping him through it. I took time off from work. I sat with him. I prepared an altar, bought an urn, and made arrangements. I kept the house quiet and recited scriptures. I held him and looked into eyes. We spoke to each other. He was in pain and stopped eating and the rest. He was holding on. I made arrangements for a vet to come out to help him pass, a difficult decision, but the best one.

    I learned more about life in that two weeks than I think I ever will. During that time I not only mourned his loss, but I regretted all the time that I had missed with him because I wasn't paying attention or was distracted. I lived more fully in that two weeks than I ever have. I realized that today, I'm facing death, right now. The only thing to do is to live fully in death, right now. He was still the whole time, he didn't talk, he didn't complain, he was just present with me and I with him. I took him for granted during life- I thought he'd live to be at least 20 years old. He taught me to live life no matter what is going on. He taught me to be with whatever is going on, even during illness or death.

    The moment he passed, thunder and lightening crashed in the distance. A freak thunderstorm appeared, I thought "how perfect that he would leave this way." I carried him out to the car and a beautiful gold and pink filled the sky and lit up everything around us. I felt him rise up into the clouds. Thunder sounded. My husband and the vet looked at each other with their mouths open at the beauty of it. I wasn't surprised at all.

    I changed my life after that day. Saabo brought me back to practice. He saved my life, again. He always was teaching me and he still is.

    Homage to all the Buddha-Kitties in the world!

    Gassho,
    Diana

  13. #13
    Diana, what a touching remembrance.

    For me, being around a relative who lost a child was the practice place. Just hanging out with whatever feelings were coming up in the family, without pushing for 'closure' or 'healing' was a challenge. Nothing I could fix, change or help. I know I blew it a couple of times and put my foot in my mouth, saying something without thinking first. Okay (sigh), then noticing that I was leaking my anxiety too.
    Shinzan
    Last edited by Shinzan; 03-14-2014 at 11:15 PM.

  14. #14
    Diana,

    Beautiful story ... and yes, our furry four legged friends can sure be the beautiful expression of Bodhicitta. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    "Enjoy the non-toothache."

    I don't know who said this, but I think of it a lot. It puts things in perspective, especially if you've experienced several days with a bad toothache.

    I try to keep aware of the abiding Sun-Faced Buddha, but also welcome the Moon-Faced Buddha when he must show. Still the same Buddha, even if the Moon-Faced Buddha brings some anxiety.
    Gassho


    Shugen
    As a priest in training, please take everything I say with a pinch of salt

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  16. #16
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Can't take serious illness seriously. The broken bones, sprained joints, heart attack, blindness, coma, influenza, et.al. in this bag o' bones is none of my business. With joy I'm attached to Vows and constant neuralgia is only a condition to realize, accept, and throw away. Once the Vows are attained I intend to return to non-attachment. Life as it is.

    With gratitude,



    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Last edited by Myosha; 03-17-2014 at 06:51 AM.
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    "Enjoy the non-toothache."

    I don't know who said this, but I think of it a lot. It puts things in perspective, especially if you've experienced several days with a bad toothache.

    I try to keep aware of the abiding Sun-Faced Buddha, but also welcome the Moon-Faced Buddha when he must show. Still the same Buddha, even if the Moon-Faced Buddha brings some anxiety.
    We could even say, "enjoy the toothache," because we are lucky enough that our facial nerves are working properly! Which is paraphrasing Shohaku Okamura, or was it Uchiyama Roshi or maybe someone else, who said something to the effect of, be grateful for your stomach ache, because it means that your stomach is healthy enough to tell you when it's sick! If you can't feel your stomach, then you've got a problem.

    As for Jundo's question, yes I think I handle things less reactively now and can better focus on the caretaker role when those around me are sick. But I am certainly not the paragon of selflessness and equanimity that I think we'd all like to be.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Good perspective, Kaishin.

    Gassho
    迎 Geika

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    We could even say, "enjoy the toothache," because we are lucky enough that our facial nerves are working properly! Which is paraphrasing Shohaku Okamura, or was it Uchiyama Roshi or maybe someone else, who said something to the effect of, be grateful for your stomach ache, because it means that your stomach is healthy enough to tell you when it's sick! If you can't feel your stomach, then you've got a problem.
    Let me say that I do this too, and I believe that it is important to "see the bright side" and think positively. Every cloud does have a silver lining. For one small example (but big in our family), the death of our little cat some weeks ago has allowed us to welcome a very gregarious kitten into our home this week. Without one, there would not have been the other. There is that very old Chinese story ...

    There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.
    One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "May be," the farmer replied.
    The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "May be," replied the old man.
    The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "May be," answered the farmer.
    The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "May be," said the farmer.
    Also, I believe that one has a better (but never guaranteed) chance of succeeding on a project in life if one holds a positive (while also "eyes open" realistic) attitude toward one's chances and getting to the goal.

    But I also remind folks that, in Zazen, we also feel a kind of Great Gratitude toward the ups and downs in life which does not always manifest necessarily as an obvious feeling of gratitude ...

    This "Buddha quote", however nice it sounds, is not something the Buddha likely said at all (turns out to be from the cheery 70's writer on love, Leo Buscaglia). Oh, the Buddha certainly taught us to be grateful for this precious life, but also to be Grateful (Big "G") in a way that puts down the balance sheet and any need even to hunt for the "silver lining".

    What is the difference between gratitude and Great Gratitude seen in a Buddha's Eye?

    (more here)
    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: gratitude & Great Gratitude

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...reat-Gratitude
    Buddha Gratitude even holds those hard times in life when gratitude is the last thing we feel!





    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-19-2014 at 02:04 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us
    My wife and I have have been administering and monitoring chemotherapy for my elderly mother-in-law at home. Three weeks ago the chemo went sideways, and she went into complete rejection. Now she is off chemo and very frail. As well, her husband, who is also in our care, is finally beginning long delayed dialysis at home. Both my wife's and my working lives have been deeply impacted by this responsibility. She had to defer completing schooling for a degree she needs for her current position, and as a result has lost that position. My studio work has lost steam, and finances are tight. Our son, who has Tourette syndrome and mild autism, has been attending a private school that can support his needs, and we have made the difficult decision to pull him out of this school (where he has been thriving) in order to pay for home nursing care for the seniors. This way we can focus on sorting out our work lives.

    After meeting with the school this morning, I sat in the car and felt tears flow for the second time in the last few weeks. I never used to cry from sadness, tears could flow over beauty or awe, but never sadness. This is new. It is just happening. The interesting thing is that now when there is sadness, it isn't sadness with a silver lining, or sadness mitigated by looking at the bright side. It is just sadness as sadness. There is no indulgence in it, but no trying to wiggle out of it either, so it is simple. This is a greater freedom than I have ever known before, to be able to just feel sad when it is time to feel sad. There is a deeper freedom, and I am very grateful.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 03-19-2014 at 03:07 PM.
    大山

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    My wife and I have have been administering and monitoring chemotherapy for my elderly mother-in-law at home. Three weeks ago the chemo went sideways, and she went into complete rejection. Now she is off chemo and very frail. As well, her husband, who is also in our care, is finally beginning long delayed dialysis at home. Both my wife's and my working lives have been deeply impacted by this responsibility. She had to defer completing schooling for a degree she needs for her current position, and as a result has lost that position. My studio work has lost steam, and finances are tight. Our son, who has Tourette syndrome and mild autism, has been attending a private school that can support his needs, and we have made the difficult decision to pull him out of this school (where he has been thriving) in order to pay for home nursing care for the seniors. This way we can focus on sorting out our work lives.

    After meeting with the school this morning, I sat in the car and felt tears flow for the second time in the last few weeks. I never used to cry from sadness, tears could flow over beauty or awe, but never sadness. This is new. It is just happening. The interesting thing is that now when there is sadness, it isn't sadness with a silver lining, or sadness mitigated by looking at the bright side. It is just sadness as sadness. There is no indulgence in it, but no trying to wiggle out of it either, so it is simple. This is a greater freedom than I have ever known before, to be able to just feel sad when it is time to feel sad. There is a deeper freedom, and I am very grateful.

    Gassho Daizan
    Daizan,

    I am so sorry to hear of these struggles you are facing ... thank you for sharing and know that I will sit with you and your family during that sadness. Much metta to you!

    Deep bows
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  22. #22
    Will be sitting the Zazenkai this week for you and all your loved ones, Daizan.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Thank you Daizan for sharing this with us. I hope to have your strength and insight when my time for impossible choices comes. I wish there were more that I could do.

    Very deep bows,

    Shugen


    Shugen
    As a priest in training, please take everything I say with a pinch of salt

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  24. #24
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Metta to all in this thread. Will sit with all of you for these challenges.
    Gassho
    C

  25. #25
    Daizan, metta to you and your family.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  26. #26
    Dear Daizan,

    I will sit for you and your family and wish you all the best!

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  27. #27
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Keep on rolling along, Daizan. Metta and gassho.
    迎 Geika

  28. #28
    Thank you Treeleaf for these words and thoughts.

    The sadness of this morning moved through, and this evening I'm watching Dexter on netflix, while the kid avoids homework, and his mother talks baby talk with the dog. The first warmish springish day has produced a tiny little moth, and the fridge is humming.

    Deep bows Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 03-20-2014 at 02:14 AM.
    大山

  29. #29
    Thank you everyone,
    best wishes for Daizan, his family and everyone in difficult situations.
    Gassho
    Myoku

  30. #30
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Last night, I had trouble falling asleep. Then my daughter woke me up in the middle of the night. On top of that, I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep.


    Then I read this koan on the train into work today and found that it spoke to me.


    In the past, I have really struggled with my attitude following a short night's sleep (just ask my wife). It's not simply being a bit tired, but rather, my poor outlook on what the day will bring due to my short night's sleep.


    So, sun-faced Buddha. Moon-faced (old age?) Buddha. When I'm tired, there is tired Buddha. When I'm alert, there is alert Buddha.


    What I take from this koan is not to fight this or even to try and transcend this. Just sun-faced when sun and moon-faced when moon.


    Gassho,


    Matt J


    ps Deep bows to those who have posted on the more serious topic of illness in this thread.

  31. #31
    Just a little note about silver linings. The principle of my son's school called and offered a very generous bursary. It kind of blew us away. It will still be tight, but William can attend again in 2014/15. Maybe if we just chop wood, carry water, and do our best, silver linings can sometimes just present themselves?

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  32. #32
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    For now, that's good news, Daizan!
    迎 Geika

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Just a little note about silver linings. The principle of my son's school called and offered a very generous bursary. It kind of blew us away. It will still be tight, but William can attend again in 2014/15. Maybe if we just chop wood, carry water, and do our best, silver linings can sometimes just present themselves?

    Gassho Daizan
    This is wonderful news Daizan. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Great news, Daizan. Deep bows to you and your family. Matt J

  35. #35
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Case 36: Baso's Illness


    Question: We have a lot of folks in this Sangha who have faced times of serious illness and the like. Has this Practice somehow allowed you to be in such times differently than you might otherwise before you walking this Practice? Please tell us.

    Gassho, J
    Hi!
    Before I started really practicing zazen regularly I had a period of psychological illness. I had to quit school and the doctors gave me the diagnosis "Asperger syndrome?", the question mark is because they weren┤t shure about was what wrong with me. This was like twelve years ago. I did get better with the help of therapi and medicine.
    Now a days I feel very well. However, two years ago I had a feeling of getting ill again. Instead of panicking, like I did the first time, not knowing what was happening, this time I could see the illness coming and knew how to handel it. I went to a therapist and got help before it actually broke out. Of course this is due to that I recognized the symptoms because it happened before.
    But I also think that my practise of Zen and zazen helped me to be in connection with myself, being able to spot my illness before it actually "got hold of me". Both in the way of seeing that this wasn┤t a part of me, that the sickness was not who I am, and also by accepting it, to not push it away, pretending it wasn┤t there.

    Sun-faced
    Moon-faced
    both one Buddha

    Gassho
    Kantai

  36. #36
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    It is hard to express how much this koan meant to me here. I had to draw it and frame it and put it up in my room. I have been familiar with the phrases sun-faced buddha and moon-faced buddha for quite some time, but reading this story somehow made it real for me in ways I can't express in words. I get it now!

    WOW
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

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