Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ora et Labora

It's yard time again. 

I hate yard time. 

I hate yard work.

I even pretty much hate having a yard. 

As a kid, I was shanghied just about every weekend into helping with a never ending landscaping project in my parents backyard. Not just the normal mow the lawn and pull the weeds type crap, but things like chopping down a line of trees, pulling all the stumps, installing ponds, etc etc. 

I hated every minute of it. 

I am left now with such a deep rooted neurosis about yard work that I literraly cannot rake the yard without getting angry. Even if I am only out there for an hour, it feels like a lifetime. It's a problem. 

Many spiritual paths seek to find all the neurosis and poisons of the mind and route them out one by one. Renounce the bad, reinforce the good; that kind of thing. Sutrayana is all about that kind of work. In general as a Tantrika and Dzogchenpa I don't worry about all that. You can spend lifetimes doing it, and I dont have that kind of time. In Tantra and Dzogchen you are never that far from enlightenment, you just need to wake up to it. The individual neurosis and habitual patterns will all take care of themselves spontaneously and effortlessly. 


Sometimes one of those individual neurosis is a stickler, and you justr cant get past it. 

Even in pure Dzogchen, most teachers give students a handful of tantric empowerments to work with as tools in the toolbox. If you go to a Namkhai Norbu retreat for instance, evem though it is focused on Dzogchen, at the end of the retreat he usually gives out a battery of ja-nong's short empowerments to work with tantric beings like Simhamukha, Garuda, 21 Taras, Guru Drakphur, and so on. They give these not so that you can work that dieties higher spiritual path to enlightenment (tod-lay), you are doing that through Dzogchen. They give them so that you can use the (mad-lay) or magick, some of which is geared to overcoming obstacles both inner and outer. 

Getting back to the yard work, I am going to start blending it with spiritual practice. Repetative manual labor is a powerful spiritual tool if done mindfully. Gurdieff was known to have people that attended his Priory spend about half their time digging ditches and such. It is also a big part of the monastic path in both Buddhism and Christianity. Ora et Labora is said to sum up Benedict's rule: pray and work. 

I am hoping that by attaching some mantra work and formless meditation throughout my time taming the yard that it becomes less odious. 

I doubt it though. 


Jow said...

I had a similar revelation while pushing carts at my old supermarket job. Starting it in a bucket of pissed off, how it isnt my job to do this, I am too old and too talented to push carts in the damn summer sun with no water and little help.

and then it hit me..

The body feels pain. The body changes. The body gets worn down. The body dies.

But it's the consciousness that suffers. And it doesnt have to. Nothing wrong with pushing carts for a wage, or digging ditches, or fixing toilets.. none of it's benieth you.

All activity is enlightened activity.

And if you ask me if I can remember that in every marital fight, every time my car breaks down, and every time I get sick; I'll tell you no.

But I try to.

Persephone said...

I am grateful that the man in my life makes the yard problem go away. I am not concerned with how he does it, only that the borough hasn't sent anyone to our door to threaten to fine us if the weeds don't get under control in a long while.

I'm sure your wife greatly appreciates your efforts on the topic, even though they are not fun!


My Gal said...

Might I humbly suggest a yard service? Seriously, with all of your skills perhaps a barter :)

Life is too short to do what you hate.

Or door number 2 get a goat and never look back :)

Best of luck!

Qabalier said...

Everytime someone stresses the importance of the mastery of the material plane, I wonder if there can be too much of a good thing in this case too, and so defeat its purpose. I mean, if you get rich you would probably not be doing so many things "hands-on" yourself, and it even could be said that you'd be mostly living in some rarefied speculator world disconnected from reality (as it seems to be generally the case with this crisis). Not that I think that's necessarily so -it's one thing to be able to use something for enlightenment and quite another *having* to do it-, but it's an objection that can be conceivably raised, so I'd like to know if there'it's just something to it or it's just another instance of the same DIY mentality you criticizised regarding magical tools.

Josh said...

I was panning bread for a job in Springfield, MA when i realized the key to wax on, wax off.

Since then, no job or task has really bothered me if i can focus myself into the task only.