Alone in a Universal Sea
The concept of being alone and separate occurred to me at the age of three years old when I realized my parents’ time in this world with me was both finite and destined to end. Looking back on it, I think this was overwhelming for a three year old, and I started crying. When my parents asked why, I seem to recall I answered because you will die one day.
Since early childhood I always have felt a connection to something else, other worldly; I felt as if this life was not all there was. Perhaps a dream, a test, and not what things seemed to be. Now, later in life and having a decade of Buddhism under my belt I am told that this life is actually a dream that I need to wake up from. Waking from the dream I am told by my teachers, I can then see my primordial awareness and be free from the cycles of rebirth. This is a tall order and a worthy goal to strive for. Lately, I’ve been trying to understand what loneliness and want of desire really is in my life; what’s at the core of these human feelings?
When I try to think back on why my three year old self would suddenly realize my parents were finite, I am not completely able to pull this back from the bank vault of memories. I remember feeling as if there was something else besides me, and then realizing that I and my parents were both in the same mortal state of being. I can’t recall the exact words that entered my three old mind, but the feelings matches up to them as I recall. Some say that when we dream in the early morning hours that these dreams are somehow more authenticate, perhaps genuine or prophetic. The other night, I had a dream during the early morning hours that I was awake in my bed, yet still in the dream state; I knew I was dreaming. Then I suddenly had the desire to see the Buddha, which sometimes comes to me when I wake up in my dreams .The next thing I knew my entire body seemed to be propelled upward towards the Buddha’s Pure Land at a high rate of speed as I passed through several levels of floors. I guess I have always had the feeling and desire to know there was more than meets the eyes in the dream of life.
More than once I have wondered when I feel lonely, why do I feel lonely? If Chris is just a label my parents gave me then who I am really? What are the moments between waking and sleeping when I just have awareness but I don’t think of myself, or my life, I just have this awareness. I know when I have an emptier mind, when the focus is not on the things I need to do, what I look like, my needs and desires which seem a function of my human mind, I feel happier, more serene.
I remember one day after decades in one spiritual group which was more of a cult than a spiritual group I had the version that I should try Tibetan Buddhism. I debated for two years with a friend whom I had shared an office with on the fourth floor of a Buddhist Temple whether I should try something new. One night I had a vision that my Guru, Living Buddha Lien-Sheng, appeared in his rainbow body, and said I could try the new practice if I wanted too. After this initial experience and with years of on-going practice I had a waterfall of spiritual experiences; sometimes I traveled in my dreams and had out of body experiences. One day my teacher at the time said I should not float out of my body but travel completely from one place to another. Years of meditation have resulted in having a calmer mind. I know this all seems so fantastic, but I believe the miracles exist within us all. I feel when we let go of what we think we might want, a direct connection to the primordial heart of things is always accessible to each of us.
On the weekend of my birthday March 30th, 2012 I wrote the following poem at our family house in Dummerston, Vermont looking out at the big green mountains in the distance:
Wanting to Being to Love
Looking across the meadow I can see the rolling mountains
The largeness of the distance, the smallness of me --- calms my mind
Since I am so small compared to the vastness of grassy fields and tree lined hills
My problems most all be small according to the universe
What is a problem
An outcome other than the wanted one
Reflecting on what I was thinking when I wrote the above poem, I think I was struggling with my earthly desires and attachments, and then I looked out over the grassy meadow at the large mountains in the distance of which Vermont is full of, and famous for, and was moved. A teacher once told me that sitting, and looking out at a large panorama to quiet one’s mind is a very good mediation. While I was trying to meditate, it occurred to me how small and transient my desires and earthly attachments are. They are empty in the end, and always changing before they end. I have spent many years of my life and in my Buddhist practice at times wanting my desires to be fulfilled, and longing for attachment to a person, place or thing. One thing I have become more aware of as I pass my 47th birthday is quite a wakeup call for me - whether the desire is fulfilled or not, it always ends and loses the original aura of satisfaction it gave me when fulfilled. If a desire was never realized, and I feel badly then eventually it is forgotten, and disappears in to my life stream which I wonder if the universe records for me in what the Buddhist call Karma.
I believe when I have let go of what I think I want, and allow the connection to my higher powers and the limitless wisdom of the universe to flow; I can always be guided towards my next right step. When I look back on my happiest moments in life, they were not moments of intense desire or fulfillment, nor were they the lows of life, they were when I was in an emotionally neutral state of serenity, and just engaged in my being instead of chasing after the next thing which needed to be done.
When I think of the aloneness of the human experience, which we all go through at some time or another in life, I am also struck by the collective togetherness that being open to the universal energies of the universe provide. This makes me feel as if alone is a state of mind that I create for myself. This may explain why a person can feel lonely when surrounded by a large group of people. If this is true, then there is hope that I can also generate great contentment and satisfaction from within. I have always taken to the Eastern philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism because of their concepts that we all have a primordial self at our cores; and we can generate great lasting happiness from within ourselves which is not dependent upon external things, or emotions in the material world.
It’s funny but when I think about it, this life feels like a collective dream experience that is a journey alone, yet on a very deep level connected to every other aware sentient being in the universe at the same time. A group dreaming as a group, with a few of us awake. Being a human we are endowed with the ability to change for the better or worse. It’s commonly said that nothing stays the same; change is inevitable either for the bad or the good. I have been told by a fellowship I belong too that progress is more important than perfection, and I agree with this thinking. As I move through the movie of my life experiences, I am committed to simply doing a little better and trying to live life on life’s terms.
The Buddhist concept of loving kindness for all is a guide I continue to try to live by. How can I be of service to others, and myself? By always including others in my road plans of life, I will always be connected to the spirit of togetherness when I feel lonely.