Today I feel like an episode from “Sesame Street” and so, we shall discuss the letter “R” and all the stuff that makes this letter such a deep, heavy subject matter.
Some of the words that stem from this letter: R convey many layers of meanings. It is like what happens when we cut onions – extremely stinging to our eyes and we can’t help but cry. Yup, it’s totally against our will too. So, let’s dive into the realms of “R“…and I’ll even present it in 2 sides of the same coin, because it is one and the same. Don’t worry, read on. You’ll soon know what I mean. I promise, it is NOT going to be heavy.
First on the list – Rejection
Dharma Side: We should reject anything and anyone that stops us from pursuing more dharma knowledge. Hence, we are encouraged to de-attach ourselves from all worldly desires and pursuits. We believe that when we have achieved true realizations, we can be a source of great help and benefit to those around us and even, ourselves.
Flip Side: We reject anyone and anything that stops us from pursuing all our worldly desires and indulging in “earthly pleasures”. Hence, we like to believe that “de-attachment” is a dirty vulgar word that should be abolished from the English Language altogether and be replaced by, “reckless abandonment”.
So, we evolve into a species which shamelessly advocate decadence like it is a virtue, by re-labelling it as “FREEDOM”. Then the whole concept becomes easier to sell, market and validate. Here lies our GRAND DECEPTION on the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
My 2 cents’ worth on the 2 sides: You either choose to become someone of benefit to others, or you choose to stay as someone who leeches on others.
No, there is no 2 way about it.
You are either selfish or self-less. Yes, it is that simple.
And guess what? The very basis of Vajrayana, Tantra and Bodhichitta is to develop ‘loving kindness’ aka compassion aka selflessness. That is the primary quality one must have and must uphold.
Nope, you cannot become a Bodhisattva without first cultivating the ability to care for others beyond yourself. This unique criteria is both the means and end of the whole Vajrayana path. Yes please do spend some time and dwell upon what I just wrote. I say it again, IT IS BOTH THE “MEANS” AND THE “ENDS”.
My personal experience: I don’t have much discipline at all in the past. Because I totally bought into the GRAND DECEPTION. I was such a regular customer of it that they were compelled to give me a special Diamond Platinum Loyalty Card to glorify me as their best customer and to keep me locked in. But do not mistake for one minute that I was held against my will like the onion story above. Nope, I ALLOWED it to occur and recur until I absolutely concurred. So, there is nothing to whine about or to feel sorry for because I was a willing and ready customer, each and every time. Well, because it felt so darn good. Little did I realise that it all comes with a very heavy price to pay at the end, or at a time when you really need something good to happen in your life to save your ass. Yes, it has that terminal gift to get you when you least expected it or when you are at your lowest of the low.
So, here comes the next word on the list – REGRESSION
This precious word: Regression is such a stone in my shoe. It is the very bane of my commitment. Who am I kidding? What commitment could I have when I have no convictions to begin with. This is why regression happen. This is why they continued to haunt me through the 30-odd years of my life. It was like being stuck in a stomach churning roller coaster ride that would not stop and you would have to swallow your own vomit every other 5 minutes. Yes, I know I am being gross and sick! But the truth, the reality is exactly just that!
No one can ever go into relapse once they have a real understanding of the Dharma, and Karma. Most of all, they can never ever degenerate if their conscience is built on a strong and firm foundation of COMPASSION.
Ssshhhh…please just cut the B.S – if you do experience the wreckage of regression quite consistently, then you have never been committed in your so-called path to redemption – whatever title you want to give it – whether it is Salvation in the realms of Christianity or Hindu or Islam. And as clear as the day, you have zero convictions. It is as simple as that.
Let me share with you a story here. So that you can relate to it in the so-called real world and not think that all this hocus pocus I am addressing only applies to religion alone.
The Filipino social hero that I have been documenting in the last 6 months or so. His name is Tony Meloto and he is a staunch Catholic. As he turned 40, he quit his job and gave up his corporate dreams at Unilever. Instead he chose to work with the slums-dwellers in Manila. And not just any slum, he chose the worst and biggest slum in the Philippines. At that time, it was already clocking in half a million informal settlers. He was particularly distressed about the state of poverty that was ravaging his country – from the mind, to the hearts to the streets. And he felt compelled to do something about it. So, 15 years ago, he began a youth social program in that very slum, named: Bagong Silang. In those days, the ratio was 1 in 3 families who reside in Bagong Silang was either dead, living a life of crime or in jail.
Tony Meloto wanted to work with the youth because he felt that only real change can take place with the youth as their mind and hearts were still receptive and open. He also believed that the future lies with the youth and that they needed values transformation asap in order to become great leaders while they are still energetic and young. No, he didn’t believe that old foggies should rule when they can’t even run fast enough to catch the bus!
His famous words are, “Do not stop hoping for your country. Do not stop caring for your people. Demand greatness from yourself as a Filipino in order to inspire greatness in all other Filipinos.”
So, with that, he felt that he must embody all the qualities and attributes that would filter down to the people he worked with or came in contact with. He must walk the talk more than others because he is the one talking.
For example, he only flies budget to this day and he travels like every other day to give talks all around the world, promoting his NGO called Gawad Kalinga, but also at the same time, helping others to help themselves. Tony will be turning 60 on 17th Jan and he says, if he is lucky, he gets an upgrade to Business Class sometimes, but he does not expect it. Ever.
Today, Bagong Silang is a slum of 1 million informal settlers and the ratio is 1 in 3 families is a college graduate because of Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga (GK). As we speak, Tony and his legions of GK workers and volunteers are transforming 2,300 communities all over Philippines. It has evolved from a youth social program to a nation building program. And their tag line is WALANG IWANAN, which means, “No One is left behind”. (I really love those words)
Tony still lives humbly and modestly in his cosy house and his entire family members, plus in-laws. They are all working in Gawad Kalinga, contributing in their own capacity, in their own unique way. And believe me when I say, they walk the talk and they do not ever use GK’s money for themselves.
The whole family travels in budget and stay in small sardine-can-like motels when they are in foreign lands.The only time they get a better accommodation is when someone offers to house them for free. I know this because I had travelled and spent more than 6 months with the whole family and GK itself.
Tony explained to me that until he saw the poor as his extended family, he could not care for them in the way that he should. And until he adopted the poor as his own child, then and only then, he could care for them like a real father should.
So, what is the moral of the story here?
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
Who said these words? None other than the other famous world changer – Mahatma Gandhi.
This brings me to the third word on the list – REMORSE
One must have some realizations of the truth as well as the fallacy before you start to feel really, really BAD about yourself, to the point that you DO NOT want to repeat the same mistakes again! Even at the cost of your life, even for another second! Because you understand what are the consequences and repercussions.
Tony shared some of his past with me. And I can safely say that this man was no Saint. In fact, his past would have made an Angel frown so sadly and God would have to re-define the words: CROWN OF CREATION as woman.
In any case, Tony said that he came into his own realization of the carnage he was causing to himself and others, when remorse sets in. And it was the return to his faith that woke him up. He told me that he could go to church every Sunday and be in communion with his Lord, but it is when he steps out of the church and work with the poor on a daily basis that he feels in complete unity with his Maker.
Without remorse, you will happily continue the way you are and you will most definitely be destabilized like every five minutes but you’d imagine that you are experiencing an epiphany every time you break down and cry. But no, seriously, it is just a “brain-fart”.
And for those who do not even feel a tinge of remorse – well, I guess this is why some people have the karma to be rapists, killers and snatch thieves, or end up becoming the victims of these very scary people.
Which brings me to the fourth word on the list – RETREAT
Retreat is when you actually remove yourself from your cycle of madness and reflect upon everything that has gone wrong in your life. You engage in a retreat in order to contemplate and shed the veil of lies and pretence. This is where you have summoned all the courage to come face to face with yourself – no holds barred.
You allow yourself to meditate so that you can sieve through the farce and find the truth. And when you do find the truth, and you keep working at it, and you stop running away in every sense of the word. Finally, one fine day, you will arise as someone quite altered in the most profound way.
Nothing may change on the outside, but inside – you’ve become someone so far removed from the old you. You might even have the trouble of recognising yourself at first.
You’ll most definitely find that your understanding, your perception and the motions of your mind actually blossom into a beautiful flower called, REALIZATION.
This is how the last word on the list comes into being – REBIRTH.
Just exactly like Tony Meloto – in giving up himself, he actually found the best of him. And I really, really like that. This whole concept totally appeals to me.
Because Tony does not think that saving and helping others is someone else’s job. He believes that he has a responsibility towards that role. Thus, he becomes that role. This is why people like him, Mother Teresa, Gandhi and my Guru inspire me so very much.
And yes, I find myself wanting to be just like them. Not just waiting around for someone else to save me. I begin, consciously and conscientiously, to save myself. In the process, I can also become the saviour of those around me. And this is exactly what I live for.
So, please contemplate on that word: REBIRTH itself and ask yourself – has anything I have just shared and described denote the essence of life and living? If not, what would you call it? A screenplay for the spiritual seekers alone but not grounded in reality?
Well, I am going to stop here because it is already 1:45am. And tomorrow I have to continue my Writing Retreat.
But before I bid you all good night, I just want to say this –
I do not want to spend the rest of my life chasing after things that only works to fulfill my own fantasies or desires, when so many around me are crying, dying and screaming in pain. They cannot wait for me to take my own sweet time. They cannot afford to linger around while I take my time to decide and do the right thing.
Hence, I want to live out the rest of my life as someone who is worthy of the name: HUMANITY.
I want to become the next Tony Meloto and the future Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.
Yes, that is what I want in every sense of the word.
As long as I am breathing, I want to spend all my efforts in healing as many people as possible and in caring for them, while I AM ALSO HEALING MYSELF.
THIS IS HOW I LOVE – with my whole heart, body, speech and mind.
WHY? Because my Guru says that I can. And I will.
So, my greatest fear (apart from losing my Guru because that would equate to losing my sight, entirely) will always be REGRESSION.
I never ever want to regress – ever! Not in this lifetime or the subsequent lifetimes.
Hence, the urgency to commit and to de-attach from everything that makes me delusional and all things that deepens my insanity.
No more, no more. It stops here and now.