By Johnathon Lee
I was on a slow slide into oblivion, and I knew I was. I knew, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I had to go into the dark, into my own pain. I had to do it alone. There were so many times I came close to slipping into the abyss forever. I was still eating, drinking and functioning in day-to-day life, but I was either dead or dying inside.
There were days when all I could do was cry, but crying wasn’t the worst part. Sometimes I laughed—that was scary. I laughed at how pointless it all seemed, and how we carried on regardless. I couldn’t let it go. The last five years have been a roller coaster ride of near death experiences, murder, poverty, madness and unrequited love.
There were so many times when I thought I was out of it, only to get sucked back into the void again. The last time left me settled on the idea that rage and cynicism were my salvation. Anger was my only relief from the pain and the desperate longing for meaning and love.
Then, well, the more straight edge among you might frown at this, but I hung out with my best friend and got really stoned on dabs (concentrated THC). I walked from her bedroom to the living room, sat on the couch, and suddenly all of the fear and sorrow was gone.
I felt it roll off as my muscles loosened up. For the first time in half a decade, I felt like everything was okay, and that it was all going to be okay. Deep relief and appreciation moved through me like an ocean, just like the ocean of sadness I carried with me before.
I saw all of my fear and longing, all of my insecurities and broken pieces were right there—and I accepted them. I gave them warmth.
The next day (sober now), I went for a walk in the rain. The wind whipped, the drops battered against my hippie cloak. I smiled and felt myself do an inner bow to everything in the universe. My heart broke open, and I finally felt love for other people again. I spontaneously started chanting a silent verse:
May everyone feel joyful, loved and at peace.
I’m at home in the world again. I learned a lot in my travels through the Nothing, and I lost a lot too. Beneath all the masks, under all the egotistic aspirations to be someone, I’m just a boring guy. That was my deepest fear. Who wants to be boring, right? Ya don’t conquer the world and get laid if you’re boring.
We’re supposed to be deep, complicated, creative, adventurous and driven. That’s a lot of work. I’m busy enough as it is making sure my thoughts, feelings, and desires are playing nice with each other. They’re my responsibility, it’s my duty to make sure that everything on my mind is well cared for—that’s the Bodhisattva’s work.
Until we can accept and feel compassion for everything that composes us, we can’t do shit. Most of the things you’re going to find in Mahayana Buddhism are for people who’ve already made peace with themselves. It’s so hard, if not impossible, to feel selfless affection for others if you haven’t dealt with your own demons.
Tension makes us selfish; tension distorts our heart-minds until we can’t see anything clearly—especially others. Until you ease that tension, everything you do is going to be twisted by greed, hatred, and ignorance. You can still do great things like feeding people, but when the bowls run empty, you’ll have nothing left to give. Then they’ll get angry, and you’ll get angry back, and you’ll berate yourself for being the way you are.
Nothing you do is ever going to be enough to fill the hole inside you or anyone else. The only reason to try to is to realize that it’s impossible. Sisyphus is never gonna get that boulder over the top of the hill. His only roadblock to peace of mind is the belief that it can be done.
The second we let go of the need to feel complete, to whole and to understand, we’re on the Buddha path.
The boulder rolls back down the hill, and stays at the bottom because there’s never been another side to this weird hill. You can do it all right here, right in this messy, dumb, ridiculous, ordinary life. You can only Wake Up right where you are.
Then the practice really begins. Each moment we must remind ourselves that the only thing we need to do is stay free and take care of whatever or whomever comes our way.
I’ve got some housekeeping to do now. I find myself surrounded by old passions that don’t fit anymore. My musical instruments are caked in dust, my records and books sit un-enjoyed. They’re the interests of a younger, more arrogant me.
Sitting quietly is my favorite thing to do now. Sitting and feeling my feelings. I guess I should sell this old stuff and invest in a comfy chair.
May you all feel joyous, loved and at peace.
Did you like this post? You might also like: