Planet Waves | Waiting for the Buddha by Jenny Singer



Waiting for the Buddha
By Jennifer Singer
Above, Lessons in the School of the Heart by Charlie Lemay

Several months ago I went to the Doctor who has been treating me for depression. I have experienced depression in the last three years because their father kidnapped my children. I looked at the Doctor and told him how very sad and hopeless I felt and expressed that I was afraid that I would never be happy again in this lifetime. He looked at me in sort of an uncaring way and told me that maybe this was the best I was going to feel and that I should probably get used to it. He shoved some prescriptions into my hands and turned his back on me. If he hadnt fixed me in three years then nobody could.

I cried all the way home wondering how I could bear a lifetime of not being happy and decided that I was not willing to settle for that. So I made an appointment with a new Doctor. I told her my story and she was very glad that I wasnt willing to give up even though I was clearly deeply depressed and despondent. She asked me if I was suicidal. This is a standard question and I think I answered it before it even finished leaving her lips. So, if you are not suicidal then what are you living for since your husband and children are gone, she asked. I was stunned because this was a trick question no one had ever asked me before. In the past they had never pressed past the one horrible question they always have to ask. For the first time ever in my life I was quite speechless. I couldnt think of one reason that I was living, just that I was. I thought for a few moments and I responded that what I really live for is to help others. I knew the right answer, the one she wanted to hear was for myself but that wasnt and still isnt how I feel. I told her what scared me the most was that I was getting so depressed that I was too empty to help others. I knew I was in a dangerous place.

I read a story recently called Waiting for the Buddha. It is about a man who had always been a good man. Much in the way I feel that I have been a good person. A hard working person who has lost everything that ever mattered. In this story Tongstan had also lost his spouse and all his children. When I reached the part in the story where Tongstan prayed in his grief for his son and said that that he wished to die, I understood what he felt like. I have often asked why? as he did about the children I love so much. Why were they taken from me? They were all that I had in my life that mattered. My tears began to flow as I got to the part of the story where Tongstan told a Buddhist monk that he was without any hope in the world and wished to die. He asked the monk what he should live for. It was at this moment I knew I was fated to find this story so that I might know the answer. The monk explained that suffering was apart of life as much as birth and death but that the problem wasnt so much about the suffering as it was the endless cravings to live for your own happiness. I understood that. My suffering would almost be bearable sometimes if I wasnt always yearning to have my happiness restored to me.

The concepts of Eastern philosophy and religion are not new concepts to me. I have a magnificent altar built in my home to honor Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. She came to me one day as I walked a crystal show. I saw her out of the corner of my eyes. She was a four hundred year old antique from Cambodia with the dirt still under her feet. I had no money to buy her though I knew she was there for me and me alone. I traded her for a piece of gold I was wearing and the man that gave her to me told me from that day forward I would have mercy and compassion. It is said that Kwan Yin was born from the tear of Buddha.

One of my most powerful spiritual teachers has been telling me for years to detach and finally I understood. Detaching from suffering is giving up our desires and finding happiness through true compassion for others. This is a different kind of happiness. The kind of happiness I used to seek was the only kind of happiness I had known. That kind of happiness was about the personal gratification of my desires. As I read this story I began to understand the teachings of Buddha more clearly. The Noble Truth of Stopping Suffering, My Lord It is the complete stopping of that thirst, being free from it, giving no place to it.

The way to Nirvana is through the Noble Eightfold Path of Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Recollection and Right Meditation. In the story Tongstan becomes the teacher and goes on to teach a King the way he found peace. The King learns through people that are divinely sent to him the lesson of mercy and compassion. He shares what he has with people less fortunate than himself. He waits for a visit from the Buddha himself not understanding that the people divinely sent to him were sent by the Buddha for his learning. The King discovers the meaning of life and becomes a Master and Teacher. He decides to devote his life to teaching others so that they may become enlightened.

I am learning that I must make no place for suffering in my life if I am ever to be free from it. I have also learned that living to help others become healed or enlightened is not such a bad thing as long as I do not become attached to the results so much that I begin to suffer yet again. Perhaps I am just a teacher in training and the experiences I have had were the fire that forged the steel that has given me the strength to go on living even after all that has happened. I know that I have been gifted with a talent, an inner knowing that has supported many people in their healing. I know that I have surrounded myself with many other Teachers and Masters who bring me healing and enlightenment and joy.

Just the other night I was at my friends house and he was showing me a box of the most beautiful Owl feathers I have ever seen. Actually they were the only Owl feathers I have ever seen. Most of my life I have been part of mainstream society and an Owl feather would not be among the things I would covet. The owl is my totem animal, bequeathed to me in death from an old precious woman who died holding my hand nearly two years ago. In her wisdom she left me an animal that can see in many directions but most importantly can see in the dark. It is that ability to see in the darkest of times that has taught me the lessons I needed to know as healer and as a human being. I think that it might be time to find a new totem. I need a totem that knows how to see in the light. Any suggestions?

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