Nirvana ~ Dharmavidya

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    Dharmavidya:

    Nir-vana means “no wind”
    Here’s a poem…

    Awful wind,
    east, west,
    north, south,
    my little raft,
    on rock,
    is in time’s mouth.
    Where flee?
    How fight?
    What pray? What tell?
    Your dreadful whine!
    I hide my lie
    in hell.
    Conceit to be,
    to dine, to feast,
    desire,
    You stir the embers,
    tinder springs up,
    flesh fire.
    Who knows of peace
    where you don’t blow?
    Those with faith
    nirvana know.

    It is
    beyond my ken,
    of course.
    Where am I going?
    Ask the horse!
    I sup and dine
    and have my fill
    and puritans
    will think it ill
    that one who teaches all the rest
    should relish life,
    with so much zest.
    The wind’s my friend,
    though he deceives
    we’ll play together
    til he leaves.

     

    Footnote
    The etymology of vana is not entirely settled, but the most likely meaning is “blow”, as the blowing of the wind. So nirvana is when the wind does not blow. This is generally related to a fire and hence, by analogy, the fire of life, which is passion. Much has been written about having the fire die out and there are many fine writings on this theme taking it that way. For myself, I think the image is simpler and familiar. There is no such thing as a life without passion, but yet the passions can be a trouble.

    When one makes a fire, as I often do in my garden, one has to reckon with the wind. The fire itself can be useful for all sorts of things, but there is always a danger of it getting out of control and one has to take some precautions against this. The culprit is the wind. When the wind blows the fire surges. Even embers one thought were dying out or dead, spring up and give flame once more. If you feed them they rise higher. All this makes a fine analogy with life.

    On the other hand, if there is no wind at all it is quite difficult to get the fire going in the first place. An experienced person builds his fire to capture the wind when it blows and lights it at just the right phase in the ebb and flow of the breeze. But once the fire is established it will burn without the blowing of the wind and does so steadily, consuming its own fuel, without becoming a danger to others. This is a good analogy for the spiritually cultivated life.

    Burn your own fuel and do not be a trouble to others. Be somewhere where they can come and warm themselves in the cold of the night, where they feel at ease to tell their stories and share their good and bad without fear that you may surge up and scare or wound them.

    My Buddhism is liberation, not extinction. It is being contained and resiliant to a degree that makes the meeting of hearts safe, healing and creative, rather than desperate, dominating or grasping. Buddha sees that the world is on fire and that fire can burn, so one must learn about the wind and acquire the skill to use it to advantage when it blows, and enjoy the peace when it falls still. Be a useful holy fire, not a raging, dangerous one.

    The Buddha sits, with folded knee,
    the picture of tranquility.
    The monkey only follows suit
    by dining out on juicy fruit.

    The Buddha smiles, watching all,
    seeing baby monkeys fall
    and the monkey, when he’s fed
    falls asleep on Buddha’s head.

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