What reliably cuts through patterned behavior?

Locked up in the prison of their own patterning
Ordinary gods cannot protect anyone.
Where, then do you go for refuge?
Go for refuge in what is reliable, the Three Jewels –
this is the practice of the Bodhisattva

– Verse 7, Reflections on Silver River

This week we continue to explore Ken McLeod’s translation of Tokme Zongpo’s “37 Practices of a Bodhisattva” in the book Reflections on Silver River.

I read and re-read this verse, feeling a lump in my throat. I knew this week I would be assisting Paul in teaching Verse 7 and I was paralyzed by anxiety, afraid I would not be good enough. Afraid I would fail. I needed to teach it perfectly.

I was closing myself to the joy of learning and tapping into my childlike curiosity and experimentation.
Using the metaphor of this poem, my “ordinary god” was “perfection”.

I felt a heavy brick in my stomach all week, preparing to teach this class – a cycle of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings of dread.

Some of the thoughts that came up:

“I don’t know how to take refuge, I’m a fake.”
“I don’t know the Three Jewels well enough.”
“I’ll screw up Verse 7 and I’ll get rejected by my teacher and friends.”

Days went by.  When I meditated on what I might share, I drew a blank – feeling frozen.

When this happened, I tried my best to let it go. I went to my body and noticed: a familiar queasiness, tight throat, and pressure in my head. I needed a plan or I would be seen for the imposture I am!

I went on like this until a week ago. I re-read Verse 7 and was sitting with Ken’s question, “Can you trust your experience?”

Moments later, I began writing this.

I could see my pattern of perfection running and I could see the humour in it — AWESOME!

New thoughts were coming up:

“I do know how to do this!”
“I just took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”
“I want to share this with the Sangha.”

Amid the chaos and confusion of the perfectionist pattern, there was a flash of space. I had a choice.

Going back to my body yet again, looking at my physical sensations, thoughts and feelings.
I took refuge in the Buddha.

I could see the space and option I had now to go in this new direction. Not to believe my perfectionist thoughts. Going back to my body and looking continuously I could experience the fruits of this teaching.
I took refuge in the Dharma.

Sharing this with all of you, my friends along this same path, I feel so supported — knowing I am not alone. If I am lost in my perfectionist tendency, please help me by shining a light on it.
I took refuge in the Sangha.

Who are your ordinary gods and are they reliable?

By Sheva with support from Paul

Categories: Blog