Anger Touches Death


My nephew, Drew, committed suicide on December 15.

The pastor at his memorial (which happened yesterday) said this: “People who commit suicide think that they are putting an end to their pain. This is not true. They are simply passing that pain onto everyone they leave behind.”

Bingo.

Drew’s suicide touches everyone differently, and we all cycle through the typical stages of grief.

For me, there’s been a lot of anger, self-loathing, self-disgust and discontent. A clinician would, without doubt, say that the stage of depression has been reached. I, on the other hand, do not subscribe to the pathologization of the natural descent cycle — but I do see that a descent has occurred and I’m endeavoring to embrace it for all it’s worth.

The Buddha would say that this mess of reactivity is due to excessive identification with the body, and he would be correct.

I am still in the body, and unless I consciously attain “Right View,” I definitely identify my body as “me.”

The body is not only physical, but it is mental and emotional as well.

The emotions are what assail me now.

So, I turn to a pair of companions who bring comfort through thick and thin: astrology and the Bible.

What does astrology say?

Astrology says that transiting Mars, the Warrior, planet of anger and physical vitality, has been moving directly over Pluto, the Dark Mother, planet of death and transformation, in my natal chart.

Mars and Pluto happen to be ruling planets in my chart. This means that, whenever they are “lit up” by mutual connection, I am thrust into processes that go directly to the “core issues” in my life.

Astrology says that Mars conjoining Pluto guarantees at least a month’s worth of physical, mental and (especially) emotional INTENSITY — which, of course, exceeds the boundaries of rationality, descending my emotions into the deepest, darkest recesses of existence.

My experience of what Astrology says includes the above-mentioned anger, self-loathing, self-disgust and discontent. I’m sure there are other things going on in my chart (i.e., Jupiter squaring Nodes and Saturn in the 7th, Uranus opposing Moon, and Pluto continuing to square Moon) that contribute to the seeming bottomlessness of the descent I’m in… but, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to find the lower floor, and I’m getting a little desperate.

What does the Bible say?

Here’s where I was led:

Eph 4:29-32 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

So… the remedy for my corrupt communication, my grieving of the Spirit of God, my bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice… is to forgive those who are on the receiving end of my projections, and to show tenderhearted kindness toward them — no matter how difficult it may be for me to get there from here.

Whew! Tall order!

And, yet… the forgiveness piece is something that’s worked wonders in my past… because, only through forgiving others am I able to receive forgiveness for my own loathsomeness.

Yes, I am inundated by explosive emotion right now.

I feel terrible about my reactivity and my frantic corruption of communication. I feel awful about ALL my shortcomings, the totality of which seems so obvious and exposed.

In this place, I can’t seem to get over the shortcomings I see in others — I want to blame them for the pain and suffering within me.

So… I forgive everyone who has ever “wronged” me — just as I forgive Drew for killing himself.

And… I pray that my own wrong-doing toward others is forgiven in kind.

* * *

Somewhere in all this grieving, there is a bottom floor.

May my feet touch down in that place as soon as possible.

Samadhi Versus Everyday Life

Work

Not really what the post is about, except in a twisted weird way....

Another fresh article is up at Samma-Samadhi, dealing with the tension between ecstatic contemplation and getting out into the world.

It’s also up at my new site, A Curator of Clarity, as we as at its associated discussion board….

The Lull

depressed
There seems to be a gathering malaise in the world, with unemployment climbing, banks failing, wars raging… and this set of circumstances reflects back into our individual lives, even if things remain fairly stable in our immediate environment.

There is a spiritual concept known as the Dark Night of the Soul which places the inevitable difficulties of life into a “higher” perspective.

I thought I’d discuss it over at the new place, if you’d like to check it out. Please comment if you feel inspired to do so!

New Blog Launch

big-buddha

No, I’m not abandoning this one.

I am, however, starting a new blog designed to establish a narrative specifically around the attainment of meditative absorption (jhana/samadhi).

If you are a dedicated contemplative with a rigorous and skillful meditation practice… or if this is something that interests you in some way… please join me at:

Samma-Samadhi

…Which means “Right Absorption,” given as the culminating entry in Gautama Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path.

The Dharma Bum Gets His Own Wiki Entry

Jack Kerouac and the other Beats were my heroes (I was, of course, not alone) when, in 1991, I moved to Boulder, Colorado… home of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute (now known as Naropa University). I could not afford to attend Naropa — who can? — but I did meet Allen Ginsberg on several occasions, which made relocating here worth it.

Kerouac, Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs have all moved on to adventures beyond my wildest imagination… and, of course, I’m still in Boulder, wondering when my boat will leave the dock.

Here’s a random Kerouac quote that reflects my own reality at different times in this life:

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

And here’s something from his Wiki entry (sans irritating Wiki footnote numbers and internal links):

Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the Beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels, and, in particular, regarded the subsequent Hippie movement with some disdain. Kerouac’s method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of Jazz, especially the Bebop genre established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and others. Later, Kerouac would include ideas he developed in his Buddhist studies, beginning with Gary Snyder. He called this style Spontaneous Prose, a literary technique akin to stream of consciousness. Although Kerouac’s prose were spontaneous and purportedly without edits, he primarily wrote autobiographical novels (or Roman à clef) based upon actual events from his life and the people he interacted with.

Many of his books exemplified this approach including On the Road, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, Big Sur, and The Subterraneans. The central features of this writing method were the ideas of breath (borrowed from Jazz and from Buddhist meditation breathing), improvising words over the inherent structures of mind and language, and not editing a single word (much of his work was edited by Donald Merriam Allen, a major figure in Beat Generation poetry who also edited some of Ginsberg’s work as well). Connected with his idea of breath was the elimination of the period, preferring to use a long, connecting dash instead. As such, the phrases occurring between dashes might resemble improvisational jazz licks. When spoken, the words might take on a certain kind of rhythm, though none of it pre-meditated.

Kerouac greatly admired Gary Snyder, many of whose ideas influenced him. The Dharma Bums contains accounts of a mountain climbing trip Kerouac took with Snyder, and also whole paragraphs from letters Snyder had written to Kerouac. While living with Snyder outside Mill Valley, California in 1956, Kerouac was working on a book centering around Snyder, which he was thinking of calling Visions of Gary. (This eventually became Dharma Bums, which Kerouac described as “mostly about [Snyder]”.) That summer, Kerouac took a job as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascades in Washington, after hearing Snyder’s and Philip Whalen’s accounts of their own lookout stints. Kerouac described the experience in his novel Desolation Angels.

Desolation Angels, by the way, is my favorite Kerouac novel — and I do believe I’ve read them all.

I don’t care what anyone says about his place in the literary pantheon: Jack Kerouac was an original from head to toe, and I’m glad I went through a life-phase with him at the center.