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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
12 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 3 figure imaginable and that meditating in a cave and eating nettles would be the idyllic life. I was a single mom trying to make ends meet, trying to meditate, to clean and cook, and teach, and also to have fun. I fantasized about rejecting it all and leading the life of a wild yogi. During an interview with my teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, I complained, “I have all this stuff going on—child, work, and everything. I can’t get away into a cave like Milarepa, yet the lineage forefathers all say that this is the only way to attain enlighten- ment. What should I do?” To this he replied, “You must view the world as your cave.” When Milarepa was hounded by demons who had invaded his rocky retreat, he tried every trick he could think of to get rid of them. He recited mantras, practiced mudras, meditated fiercely, praised them, tried com- passion on them, and some vanished, but one particularly fierce one remained. Finally he just surrendered. As it is said, “With friendli- ness and compassion he put himself in the demon’s mouth. But the demon could not eat him and so vanished like a rainbow.” Every day I face some demons of cook- ing or cleaning or TV or driving or apolo- gizing for something I was supposed to do but didn’t, or did but didn’t do well, or did well but so what? Our post-modern demons may not have bodies like thumbs and eyes like saucers, but they are no less ugly, stubborn, irritating, and persistent. In my cave today there’s a demon at my breakfast table popping multivitamins and another in my office explaining why I should give her a better grade. A whole gang of them are drinking coffee and crawling over each other at the department meeting, and on my way home a car full of them on cell phones cuts right in front of me. They aren’t going to leave. Maybe I have to accept that my mantras and gazes and reci- tations from the scriptures won’t do a bit of good, that my loving compassion will only quell some of the demons some of the time. Maybe I will just have to give up and put myself in the demon’s mouth. Today Milarepa is still inspiring those of us who walk on the path of dharma. Sitting in his cave and following his discipline, he shaped songs that the world still sings. If I let the world be my cave while I follow my discipline, the demons just might mosey over to listen to my song. FROM THE BLOG OF NALANDABODI.ORG, JANUARY 2013 THE MOMENT OF TRUTH Pema Chödrön says that when you’ve reached your limit, you have an important choice to make. The nature of reality is completely para- doxical. It is not like this or like that but we definitely think in opposites or polar views. We concretize with our mind because that’s where security comes from; we try to get ground under our feet by saying, “It’s like this.” Taken to its extreme, this becomes fundamentalism, meaning that you hold to a view and you would go to war for it. It’s like this, and it is no other way. To the degree that you relax more into uncertainty and groundlessness, you find your heart opening. Your heart opens to the degree that you can allow difficult situations and step into them. Strangely enough, and I’m sorry to share this with you, you do start to see more and more suffering. In case you