Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

March 19, 2012—April 22, 2012

March 19, 2012
We all laugh at drama queens, while most of us are drama princes and princesses. The drama queen is only a slightly exaggerated version of the rest of us, which is perhaps why s/he makes us move between laughter and contempt. For it’s only a matter of degree that distinguishes our little dramas of aversion and grasping from hers/his.

March 31, 2012
My sister died in the past week, and I have what I feel is an unsentimental, though not uncaring, sense of who/what she is now. Whatever form she has taken, I feel it is free of the suffering that led her to create suffering for me. There can now be a peacefulness, a tenderness in my sense that, because of how she used her rage in the world to insist on justice—used, if you like, her insanity to call out for sanity—her karma will serve her now.

What surprised me, following her passing, was my sudden realization that with her death, there is nobody left in the world who can recall 14 Edgevale Road as it was when we grew up in it. This feels different from knowing that the people (many people, by now, since it was sold in the late ‘60s) who have bought it have surely changed it radically. That never disturbed me, because I could recall with certainty how it had been. Now I am the only person alive who knows that there was a bust of Pan on the mantelpiece, a canopied bed in the master bedroom, a picture of the Danube in the guest room, and on and on.

Suddenly I can see, on an intuitive level, that this is what is meant by mental formations. All that exists now of the 14 Edgevale Road I knew are my unique mental formations. With this comes the knowledge that that was all that ever existed—while my sister and I might have agreed that there was a silver basket of fake fruit on the dining table, her mental formations were never the same as mine, not even when we were living there. It is helpful to see how stubbornly we cling to our constructions, grasp after certainty and substance just as blindly as we deny the inevitability of our own death.

April 22, 2012
This last morning on the desert before the house is sold, Bettina and I practiced chi gong according to our habit, a little after sunrise, on the back patio. Such a perfect blue-skyed morning, with sweet fresh air, looking out across ocotillos still in bloom, towards the sacred presence of Whale Mountain. As part of her richly layered languaging for the practice, Bettina spoke the words, “You are the desert. The desert is you.” At that moment it became clear to me that what made my decision to sell the house a simple and natural passage was not only non-attachment, though it was that. For quite awhile, coming out to this place, I was aware, without giving words to it, that I was not responding in the same way. Even as spring unfurled, as marvelous clouds passed overhead and cast shadows across the land, tiny rabbits came out to taste our carrots and new birds nested in the carport, I saw and knew how beautiful it was, but I was not feeling the same amazed wonder, what I’m now calling the WOW! Factor. Suddenly, as I flowed through the chi gong movements, I could know why that was. The WOW! Factor, where we exclaim at the beauty to ourselves or others, depends on difference, on separation—I am here, the beautiful object is there and I admire it. This morning I feel how I can appreciate that the desert is beautiful and that I am beautiful and the world is beautiful, and there is no difference.