Milarepa, Pema Chodron, and a Regular Guy. Oh … and Demons.

The following is reproduced from the Live Journal of Wraith in Wings:

Into the demon’s mouth…

Milarepa, who lived in the eleventh century, is one of the heroes of Tibetan Buddhism, one of the brave ones. He was also a rather unusual fellow. He was a loner who lived in caves by himself and meditated whole heartedly for years. He was extremely stubborn and determined. If he couldn’t find anything to eat for a couple of years, he just ate nettles and turned green, but he would never stop practicing.

The story goes that one evening Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, only to find it filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the joint. He knew about the teaching of the nonduality between self and other, but he still didn’t quite know how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were a projection of his own mind- all the unwanted parts of himself- he didn’t know how to get rid of them.

So first he taught them the dharma. He sat on this seat that was higher than they were and said things to them about how we all are one. He talked about compassion and emptiness and other key Buddhist teachings. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then he lost his patience and got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally he gave up and just sat down on the floor saying, “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together.”

At that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said “This one is particularly vicious.” (We all know that one. Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel that’s all we’ve got.) He didn’t know what to do, so he surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, “Just eat me up if you want to.” Then that demon left too. The moral of the story is, when the resistance is gone, so are the demons.
~ The Pocket Pema Chodron

Wraith in Wings writes…

I’d like to say something about self love, and not in the sniggering wink wink nudge nudge kind of way. I mean genuine self love, self forgiveness, appreciation, and recognition.

All my young adult life, and perhaps when I was younger, though I don’t recall very well my state of self awareness back then, I have struggled with this very anti Western concept.

The Western world is big on swagger and ego, but low on genuine self esteem, and I found self love a very hard concept to wrap my mind around. I asked myself, Why the hell would I want to do that? What benefit is there?

(As a matter of fact, I was outside on the phone with my partner, banging my head against the wall in frustration (literally, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit) yelling at him for even suggesting something (so ridiculously stupid) as just showing a little simple loving kindness to myself.)

The more I’ve delved into my understanding of teachings of mindfulness, awareness, acceptance, and that simple loving kindness, the more I’ve sensed a deep change in my own personal awareness and sense of self. I find a deeper sense of self respect in being true to even my darkest hurts and shames and addictions.

The Western philosophy we’ve had drilled into our brains since infancy is that we hide the dirty ugly things and fear in a big kind of way our own belief of our badness. Churches mediate to their respective god heads for that ever elusive forgiveness for sins, perhaps forgiveness they can never give themselves.

I’ve seen how the shift in mindset has changed my actions. Oh yes, the urges to lapse, to panic, to hurt myself in major ways still pop up into my head and scream for attention, just because they are so used to living here. They want to share my bed, eat my food, hide my keys and take the mate to my sock.

Just as in the story at the beginning of this entry, I used to scream at these demons. I screamed, I raged, I begged. I threw things, I broke things, I cried. I generally made a huge mess. And then it slowly stopped mattering. They live in this little house along with me , I couldn’t rage against that machine anymore, I had to accept them. They were here, and so was I. I wasn’t going anywhere, even though many times I thought ending it all would be the answer.( If I was going down, they were going down with me, right?) Slowly I let them sit next to me through the day, I listened to the chatter, and I let it float by me, unarmed thoughts, untouched clouds, harmless.

And the world shifted.

This is a big deal for me, something I felt worth sharing.

~ ~ ~

This entry is reproduced from the Live Journal of Wraith in the Wings: It was composed by someone known as Wraith in Wings and was not written by the owner of this blog.

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