Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reflections on Dukkha

Reflections on Dukkha

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, 1960's
image source:
We see, around us, things that make us sad
and angry, while there’s little we can do –
injustice, needless pain and suffering –
and we ourselves may be affected too.

And seeing this, some sink in dark despair,
or simply shrug and go about their life.
There’s only so much we can fix, repair –
or vainly seek to stem the tides of strife.
And some of us might see and yet not see –
or turn away from what discomforts them.
And others might find refuge in their gods –
or take recourse to lie or stratagem.

Philosophies exist, in ancient lands,
and even newer ones, that seem to help.
“It’s fortune, karma.” or “That’s how it is.”
Acceptance helps the sad, beleaguered self.

And some would say, "There's night that follows day.
There's hunger and there's satisfaction, and
without the first, would food retain its taste?"
We suffer – and we start to understand...

And others yet may speak or write – and some
may even act – in ways they think are best
or can imagine and achieve – and then
may fail or may succeed upon their quest.

And some see villains, whom they seek to crush,
and others relish being rescuers.
But few are they, who try to understand
the causes and connections, seeking cures.
For much of what we see, the sorrow spread
by actions, words and thoughts compulsive, are
pathologies that stem from ignorance –
or vision clouded by the smoke of war.

Gotama woke from this, our lifelong sleep,
and saw our sorrow and the root of it.
And so he bid us to awake and watch
the fog arise and leave – dissolving it.

But who can do it?  We are trapped by self
and all that’s built around to cage us in.
So passions rule, or calculations cold,
and newest sin is heaped on older sin.
But if we are aware, that all is not
as we imagine it – and that there’s light
within the deepest darkness, then we’ll pause –
and in that pausing, find the gift of sight.

“The other cheek” is what the gospel says
we should be turning to the ones who strike.
Yet who can do this, who is not a saint,
when death and utter devastation strike?

Of all that is compulsive, be aware.
Amidst the madness and the rushing, pause.
Release the breath and feel again the heart.
Let kindness be, without a need for cause.
2014 August 26th, Tue & 27th, Wed.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

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