This Saturday morning of July 23rd, I woke up the sideward falling of the monsoon rain which did so as if cut by the sideward glances of a flirty young hot shorty. Still in mind remained the confusion of thinking that the F.B.I. had busted into my room here at Sarah and tore my all shit asunder in search of illegal contraband. To my relief and like everything else mental, it was all in my head. Yesterday, our Morpheian teacher led us to the end of the terrain that consisted of the mind. Out of our study of the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness” (blo rig) many of us have been painful debating about mind and its accompanying mental factors i.e., emotions which consist a different strain of study as compared to the other presentations found in the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness”.
Mind and its mental factors (sems dang sems byung) is mainly based on the Indian text called the “Compendium of the Abhidharma” (chos mngon pa kun las gtud pa/ abhidharmasamuccaya) written by Asanga. The previous presentations mainly dealt with how the mind knows things, either validly or not, either correctly or not, either directly or not, etc but with this presentation we studied mainly the emotions that must arise when a mind i.e., consciousness arises. There are 51 mental factors that arise with a mind, meaning that for each mind, lets take for example a mental consciousness apprehending a pot, there are out of these 51, 5 that must arise in tandem with it.
Thus that mental consciousness is also called a main mind (gtso sems). To keep this short and not to bore you death, there are many requirements that they must fulfill. The 5 mental factors act like a king’s bodyguard or to put in a more modern sense, like the secret service that must accompany Prez Obama wherever he goes. The main mind and these 5 mental factors a.k.a the five ever-present mental factors (kun ‘gro lnga) of feeling, perception, intention, contact, and attention, must have five aspects that are congruent with each other. Both have to be congruent in time, in object of observation, in aspect, in basis, and in substantial entity meaning that they are made of the same stuff. Thus when ones mental consciousness apprehends a pot at that time the other five aspects congruent with it also arises and so on and forth. But in the debate arena keeping this plus other points in one mind straight and clear is quite a messy business. This is just to give the reader some idea of what we have been dealing with for the pass two weeks since classes started.
This coming Monday, we will for now leave this terrain behind and move on to the big shit, our first look at a major Indian Buddhist text as I have mention previously. We will officially begin the first year of the “Perfection of Wisdom” course which lays out the entire Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhist path to liberation. I am quite nervous about all this, as I have seen that though I study my ass off, it takes me a really long time to get even a miniscule taste of W.T.F is going on. But it is all good. The commentaries are gargantuan and just looking at them without opening the cover causes the butterfly to run wild in my belly.
Anyways, I have just been recently introduced to the concept of ‘Ego’ music by a young American lady. It was a term I had never heard before and thus I was compelled to learn with it is. It was quite simple, as this lady stated, it music that one listen to feel like “I am da shit”. Wow, quite a revolutionary concept I might add. When I checked her ‘Ego’ music playlist I saw that most of those songs would not make me feel so and so I started wondering what would be my ‘Ego’ music? For a person like me who has been struggling with self-confidence, some ‘Ego’ music might be in good order. So one day while studying a song popped out on my I-tunes and as I listened to it and got up and started rocking to it and thought, ‘hey, I feel like I am da shit right now!’ regardless of whether I am or not. It’s kinda like a fake it til make it thing, it didn’t really matter what the lyrics were about but about the energy of the song that pushed the issue.
This caused me to mull over other candidates for ‘Ego’ music, with first contender being Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” which came out when I was like a thirteen year plimply lil jit in NYC and which was the first rock song that I actually ever liked, with its hard grungy guitar licks and Kurt Cobain’s wailing voice, I then thought of other rock songs and even I dare say heavy metal songs that could serve up the same purpose. The hit of all ‘Ego’ music for me I think will have to be some good ole’ gangsta rap regardless of its misogynistic lyrics; nothing can’t make a brotha feel like ‘da shit’ like some straight up, ‘bitch slapping, bust a cap in da roof, don’t fuck with me, I don’t give a fuck!’ gangsta rap. Of course I don’t necessarily agree with the lyrics but it is the feeling that pushes da issue.
I have always had my ‘I need to love myself’ music which mainly consists of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s über bad ass quawwali licks of the Sufis, when I feel lacking in intimacy but this ‘Ego’ music idea it one that I am looking forward to exploring more. But now there is a catch, with being a practicing Buddhist and all there is always the danger of it backfiring; quite the oxymoron ain’t it? We are striving to reduce and ultimately eliminate the ego entirely not boost it up, so what gives? My thoughts on it for now are that in my case seeing that I have been struggling with my self-confidence forever that some ‘Ego’ music could be helpful. Like I heard the English nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo say once, “Many westerners with low-esteem levels need to first boost it and then work on eliminating it using the path”. For some reason, it does not work well at all if one confidence is already low and so I am looking at it with that in mind. And so, last night before I had to sit and defend my assertions with a fellow clueless classmate in front of a bunch monks at a damja, I stood in the middle of my room with my “air” fender Stratocaster in hand and now that my dreads are once again long, I slammed that guitar and banged my head to those grungy licks I mentioned earlier, and though during the damja I was being stumped, ridiculed, laughed at and getting caught in contradictions left and right, at the end I did not feel like shit but like I am da shit.
P.S. the above pic is of my nativeHimacheli orchid Anasazi flowering this pass summer.