After the heroics of trying to suppress my coughing fits over two weeks, I began to see flashes of white light in my visual field. Thankfully I’m not so deluded as to have thought it was anything more than my sense organ having a conniption. But when dark gashes started appearing around the periphery of my vision, I began to ruminate about blindness and incapacity. Frank, of course, routinely carries the sharp sword of wisdom and quietly made an appointment with the eye doctor. She was a delight; perhaps I only think so because she took me seriously and spent a good chunk of time checking my eyeballs out – inside and out. No retinal tears (I had already self-diagnosed via Dr. Google)! What a relief. I returned to my state of being a superior practitioner feeling quite smug that all that meditation does pay off when you’re having your retina scanned. Which is, of course, why we meditate, right?
Then the lovely lady informed me that the problems I’ve been having with a burning sensation in my eyes is not allergies. Since it only happens when I read, it would have been tragic to learn I was allergic to books, Kindles, iPads, and iPhones! No, no allergies. Hence no quick fixes of antihistamines twice a day.
It was the quality of my tears. Apparently, my lacrimal glands suck at expressing themselves. In the realm of aspiring bodhisattvas, this could be a problem. So I have been faithfully applying hot compresses and massaging my eyelids. Now instead of burning sensations, they feel like they’re stumbling through a sandstorm. I am told that this too will pass.
All of this has me thinking about practice. I know, I know. I’m always harping about practice but you must admit, I’ve backed off a bit by dropping the ending salutation on each post: “Thank you for practicing.” It began to feel rather preachy and I couldn’t decide between “practising” the Canadian way and “practicing” the American way.
Nevertheless, it is about practice – and not only because some forms of practice get us through an MRI, a dental exam, a prostate or pap test (yes, gents, we too suffer), or anything else that reminds us of our mortality. In the Heart Sutra, Avalokita, that great practitioner of compassion (whose lacrimal glands produce high quality tears that are a nectar of healing, I’d imagine) is said to have been engaged in “deep practice” when he/she realized the profoundness of our being. That’s the first line. If we never get beyond that line of the short version or never delve into the 125,000 verses, that one phrase is enough.
“Avalokiteshavara, while moving in the deep course of perfect understanding…”
Does it boggle your mind? It knocked the socks off mine. Here is someone who has attained enlightenment, defers transcending into absolute boundlessness… and she’s still practicing!
If you haven’t just run out of excuses, I have!