I sat idly with my journal open, fountain pen uncapped and thoughts racing through my head. Many of my journal entries make it into blog posts although sometimes rewritten for mass consumption. When they are rewritten it is my fear which concludes what is appropriate for mass consumption and what must remain hidden. In following this rationale I realize I have not been true to reason why I began writing this on-line journal.
The title of my blog, “The Dharmata” was chosen based on the meaning of this term. Dharmata means, “Intrinsic nature of phenomena and mind.” Closely related is the term “bard of dharmata.” This means, “The period from dying until emerging in the mental body of the bardo of becoming.” In choosing this title, I refer to spiritual growth, my spiritual growth. I believe that spiritual and emotional growth are closely related and each has an impact on the other.
For years I have wandered through these fertile fields of thought, fearful of what I may find. Fearful that I may find something which was displeasing to others. I kept these thoughts and beliefs to myself. Being brought up in a rather strict Roman Catholic home you were raised to believe or not believe. If you wandered from the church this was considered to be not normal.
I want to thank a priest with whom I had a run-in over twenty years ago with changing my thoughts about these beliefs. Fr. Lou confronted me when I asked for and received a letter of recommendation to become my nephew’s Godfather. As I sought to remove a pen from the breast pocket of my shirt, he gently placed his hand over mine, looked at me and said, “Remember! When you sign this letter, you are not lying to me, you are lying to God!” He was referring to my refusal to place my tithing into an envelope which concluded the gift could only have come from me. Instead I placed my gift of folded currency in the collection basket and felt as I had been taught “God sees everything” that the amount of my tithing was in fact between God and myself. this was not in fact the belief of Fr. Lou.
I wandered aimlessly for several years returning many times to Buddhism and the belief that I am in charge of my own destiny. I learned to believe that I was practicing/living my beliefs in full view of everyone. I was not the individual who attended church services for an hour on Sunday to only leave and believe I could treat others any way I saw fit. This didn’t work for me but for the fear which was instilled in me after many years of “Catholic upbringing” I was afraid to challenge those beliefs, afraid to challenge myself.
This past week found my week beginning with what began with a question and rapidly escalated to a war of words and then into a physical demonstration of these same fears. The belief that these actions were couched in fear was not evident until I went for my run Saturday. I stopped halfway through a ten miler overcome with emotions. I perched myself on a rock and the emotions poured out of me as rapidly as the sweat from my steaming body.
My wife confronted me this morning and asked me what my motivation was for taking ownership and apologizing for my words and actions. She asked, “What makes this time different?” I felt hurt and sad. I pride myself on my willingness to take good care of my physical, emotional and spiritual health yet I find myself, at some point pressing the cruise control button and coasting along for the ride. I find myself traveling like this for a great distance until I find myself no longer willing to keep up with the rapidly emptying tank and a crash becomes evident. I miss or do I ignore the symptoms? She is right. It is time for me to accept full responsibility for my actions. I can no longer use excuses about stress, a busy schedule, fear that continuing to identify the person who I am may jostle the opinions of those around me. Instead I need to own my beliefs and my actions until they become one for this is integrity.
I find myself saying many times that one of my favorite words in “integrity.” This was something I always felt I had. One cannot have integrity by simply wishing for its presence. One must actually put those words into congruent actions for it is integrity which builds trust. I must acknowledge that I do not hold any of the answers for the questions of life. I must accept that there is never one path to achieve a goal and as a result, the paths may not be the straight line which others find so easy to discover and negotiate. I must acknowledge that my path, however crooked it has been is the path I have chosen. It has not always been the path of least resistance but often the one of most resistance, begging the question, “Why am I doing it this way?”
Marissa, I hope you know how much I love you. As your father I want the best for you. I have allowed my thoughts and beliefs to cloud my thinking and have refused to acknowledge the path which you have chosen to reach your goals. As a result I have stubbornly determined that it is I who knows best how you should achieve your goals. I know your perseverance will allow you to find the success in your life.
I love you very much,