There is much to be said in the belief that our response to suffering, blessings, heartbreak, and, especially, love form our future. During the first love of my life I expected there would never come a moment where lovers could become strangers, but I was sickened to find that I was not immune to heartbreak. I’ve learned, by being in love many times, and heartbroken many more, that closing our heart prevents us from being apart of the momentous and spontaneous nature of divinity. I chose heroism, creating positive karma, by learning to cooperate with the antagonisms that seem to hover over our spirits waiting for a moment to attack.
We become our habits. But each time the cowardice that deters us from completing our goals, from being honest with ourselves, has urged us to fall into old habits we create negative karma, and shamefully prevent ourselves from embracing a new world. For positive karma must be created, and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche teaches us, throughout The Tibetan Yoga of Dream and Sleep, how to not respond to stimuli negatively:
If we react to a situation with negative emotion, the trace left in the mind will eventually ripen and influence a situation in life negatively. For example, if someone is angry with us and we in turn react with anger, we leave a trace that makes it more likely for anger to arise in us again, and furthermore it becomes more likely for us to encounter the secondary situations which allow our habitual anger to arise.
This is easy to see if we have a great deal of anger in our lives or if we know someone who does. Angry people continually encounter situations that seem to justify their anger, while people with less anger do not. The external situations may be similar but the different karmic inclinations create different subjective worlds.
Redemption is at the root of our positive karma. Rather than forcing ourselves to fall asleep or being paralyzed by pain we become heroic. Heroism, for me, is kneeling before the light of the candles, turning off all the lights in the house. Praying, speaking power over myself. Reaching in the dim light for a pen. Opening a notebook that contains scribbles, poems, and letters crafted for the ancestors. I wrote my fears and dreams beside the fire. Folded the paper that contained my fears, corners first, face down. Into the blaze where the fire scorched every letter.
I kneeled before the alter while the fire blazed. Looked through scriptures of the Pert Em Heru. Lit a green candle and sat breathing into the fire. I shut out every obstacle, allowed every extraneous idea to pass. Feeling the fire warm me and reset me inside as one feels watching the sun rise. Crystals sit around the flames; there sits an amethyst, a tiger’s eye, an obsidian, and jasper. I grabbed each of these and headed for the bedroom. This had become my nights regardless of the day. A ritual increases our awareness and insight allowing us to create positive karma in our lives.
I sat at the fire to learn myself. For a moment, I thought all my fears, worries, and insecurities would melt away like the wax from the candle. But we must take our spiritual practice into every facet of our lives. For in the beginning sitting at the alter will feel like a costume. But this is how we develop positive karma. An identity crises comes along with the desire to grow. But Tenzin makes clear that as we develop compassion for ourselves it’ll be an easier transition saying:
Instead of being driven by negative responses we can take a moment to stop and communicate with ourselves. And choose to produce the antidote to the negative emotion. If someone is angry with us and our own anger arises, the antidote is compassion. Inducing it may feel forced and inauthentic at first. But if we realize that the person irritating us is being pushed around by his own conditioning. And further realize that he is suffering a constriction of consciousness. We feel some compassion and can start to let go of our negative reactions.
As we do, we begin to shape our future positively. This new response, which is still based on desire produces a karmic trace that is positive. We have planted the seed of compassion.
The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep teaches us to take our spiritual practice to every part of our lives–even sleep. There is so much attempting to separate us from ourselves, so why should we not have the same devotion towards ourselves. Continue reading Tenzin on utilizing our emotions.