Monday, May 16, 2011
Rocking Our Fears in the Cradle of Loving Kindness
Fear of Death is my bogeyman. I've embodied it in drawings and creatures like The Body Processor and The Life Trapper, below, who suck in body parts and spew out spiritual energy.
Recently I've been making "Safety Wear", which are magical clothes designed to impart protection against harm, risk or anxiety. Some of the clothes are enabling attire, like the Bravery Jacket (left) and the Consciousness Cape (right) to keep me awake and aware.
Last weekend I volunteered as an aide at the Decatur, GA Shambhala Center for the Level 2 Spiritual Warrior program. I discovered new insights that I had not recognized when I attended the program as a participant.
Rocking Our Fears in the Cradle of Loving Kindness is a slogan in Shambhala Buddhist meditation practice that means to embrace our fearfulness instead of struggling against it. In Western culture, this seems anti-intuitive. We're exhorted to "Get over it", or "Move on" with our lives and not let fears get the best of us. I recall the shocking scene in the movie Patton, when the eponymous general slaps the face of a frightened soldier, to make him shape up and be a man. Repressing my fears doesn't work for me. When I meditate, suppressed thoughts have a way of popping to my mind. Instead of aggressively slamming them down, Buddhism encourages me to investigate them with curiosity, examining their nuances, how they manifest in my body, in my thoughts and storylines. It is a patient technique that requires its own fearlessness, and at the same time a gentleness to myself in the process. Art and Buddhism are tools for my spiritual courage.
A Joyful Heart