Thoughts on Life From The Tibetan Book of the Dead
“All of us feel sparks of anger, flickers of passion, tinges of jealousy…from these seeds we grow to become a jealous person, an angry woman, a passionate man. We say, “this is what I am”, and we act accordingly. But these are just our masks, we forget that we are wearing them. We run from the ones which others wear. It is impossible to run from them, they are the sharpness of your own clarity.”
Sometimes I find myself struggling to live by the ideals I once held. It is as though long ago I began building a solid foundation upon which to live my life, but instead of continuing to build upon that foundation, I’ve wandered off to begin building new ones that don’t always belong in the same neighborhood as my first.
“You an have lofty insights and pure impulses, and return to your old habits without even noticing. We have to work all the time to open our hearts and look for the truth. Otherwise there is neither understanding, nor a purpose for understanding. Also…it is not a bad idea, as life goes by, to keep your sense of humor.”
Ideals aren’t always the grandest of projections, and often living by them causes more harm than good — but somewhere between reality and ideals lies the real us, whoever that may be. And as long as that “us” is allowed to thrive, our emotions tend to stabilize as they balance to create a picturesque nothing that is void of extremes.
“People make Hell-realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passion, out of envy, or complacency. We project our emotional states, then believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion…everyone wants to be awake.”
What’s most important isn’t idealism or realism, it’s “us”. Building a foundation of ideals to exist harmoniously with reality isn’t something that can be built alone (although each of us must contribute to the whole through introspective and extroverted solitude), it is something that must be based on the entirety of existence.
“Pay attention, do not be afraid or bewildered, the great wrathful ones are now appearing before you. They are the presence of your innate wisdom. A vivid form of your own wakefulness. Recognize them as a reflection of your own mind. Recognition and liberation are simultaneous.”
My struggle is that I require inspiration. In order to build ideals that reflect everything else but myself onto myself, I must desire to do so, which defeats the purpose. As I return to focus on the “us” rather than the “my version of ‘us'”, I regularly realize that I’m two steps behind where I last left off. To take three steps forward to continually progress, I must overcome thinking in such a manner. I’m always learning.
“When you are born you cry, but the whole world is overjoyed. When you die the world cries, but you may find the great liberation…”
Creating balance isn’t science, it’s life, dream, and death.
“So it seems coming to life is not necessarily a thing to be celebrated? Just as death is not always something to be mourned, being born is not necessarily a joy in itself. Then what is the meaning in our journey through life and death? Seeking the truth, and practicing compassion, that is the way life becomes meaningful.” (41:42)