Accepting the worst in life
It has been a strange end to the year.
Over the last six months many people around me, at the gym and within my family are ill, have someone in their family who is ill or have passed away.
Many of them say “I/we are going to fight this,” which is great, more power to them, but there may be a more wholesome way to reduce suffering and channel this fight than the traditional “be strong” approach.
Inviting Mara to tea – Accepting Reality
Buddhists talk about inviting Mara to tea.
The night before Siddhārtha Gautama’s enlightenment, to become Buddha, he fought a great battle with the Demon God Mara, who challenged him with emotional temptations like greed, lust, anger and doubt.
Having failed, Mara disappeared on the morning of the Buddha’s enlightenment; only to make unexpected appearances throughout his life.
Instead of ignoring or confronting Mara, the Buddha would calmly acknowledge his presence, saying, “I see you, Mara.”
He would invite him for tea, offer him a comfortable cushion and serve him as an honored guest, always making sure to take his own seat after Mara had first taken his.
Mara would dwell for a while and then leave, whilst the Buddha remained free and undisturbed throughout.
Inviting Mara to tea is about accepting reality.
I stress – ACCEPTING REALITY!
Buddhists don’t teach to resist or run from Mara as this will create suffering, stress, and tension.
They say, “come in Mara, take a seat, have a cup of tea, chill out with me.”
This way Mara has no power, he eventually gets bored and leaves.
Smiling at death – Accepting Death
Marcus Aurelius said…
This quote reminds me of a scene from Predator when Billy, a Native American soldier, decides to stop running from the predator. He throws his backpack and gun into the river, turns around, takes off his shirt and draws out a gigantic knife.
Billy stands waiting to fight the creature, knowing that death is imminent.
To most of society, death is the big white elephant in the room. Very few people turn around and stare it in the face. It is always present but never acknowledged.
Death is a necessary evil. It makes living all the more precious.
How about accepting death as part of life and using it as a reminder to fulfil each and every moment?
Stop, turn around and smile.
In the Buddhist tradition, they actually practice death – letting go of the body – so when death comes calling, they don’t panic, they are prepared.
I know when I pass over, I would rather be calm for my loved ones than be screaming, crying and clinging-on to a suffering body.
What sort of an example would that be?
What kind of memory would that leave with them?
Be grateful you’ve had the extraordinary opportunity of life, pass this feeling on to your loved ones and don’t selfishly cling to things that need letting go of.
Expanding and contracting – Accepting the Flow
In the west, we try to meet everything head on like we’re boxing. We punch and get punched, and if we remain standing, we win.
But I like to compare life to Jiu-Jitsu or Russian Systema – it’s a flow, a dance, a movement of forces.
With illness, mental or physical, don’t try to meet it head on, flow, dance and manoeuvre with it.
Mara, Marcus, Billy and Bruce – Dealing with Illness, Suffering and Death
If you are ill, and it’s treatable, invite Mara in, give him a cup of tea, let him relax and when he’s not looking choke him the f*ck out, put your foot on his chest and yell, THIS IS SPARTA!
If it gets to a point where they (certain doctors who treat bodies like machines and disregard the power of the human mind and spirit) tell you it’s not treatable, do what Billy did – stop, turn around, face death, and smile your biggest smile – “ok death, let’s dance mother f*cker.”