What is the Cost of my Dharma? (Revisited) (well, that depends…*)


(In case you were wondering…)
On August 14th, 2016 I once again found myself in a hospital.
I say once again because many years ago, as a young man under a completely different set of circumstances, I found myself barely clinging to life, unsure if I would be forever crippled.
It robbed me of a year of my life.
It was also August the 14th, but I am no longer a young man.
The coincidence of the dates did not occur until the night before the surgeries that would last for two days.
I do not write of this to try to garner sympathy. Much like my previous circumstances of which I wrote in early summer, as this mantle passes over me, I am filled with gratitude.
The pain made me stronger and more determined. It was only temporary.
For whatever reason, it seems as if I don’t get it the first time, my life continues to force its lessons on me until I do get it right or it continues to get worse and repeat themselves until I do.
I consider myself lucky that way.
For almost three months, I have been in so much pain that only meditation and out of body projection as well as contemplation gave me any relief, at the cost of having to focus virtually all of my concentration and energy into channeling the pain.
As for narcotics, I saw it’s all fun and games until you actually need them, and whatever the reason, it would no longer be fun and games.
And regarding meditation, contemplation and introspection, the difference between rumination and something more positive is that in a state of Zen contemplation, thoughts come and go; our minds have a way of processing those thoughts in terms of congruence of circumstances to reveal a possible relationship we had never noticed before.
The trick is not to get mired down in the pain of remembering instead of recognizing it for what it was and understanding why it is presenting itself to you now, and moving on….
I could not shake the feeling that I would not survive. It seemed I had no control over the matter. I asked myself “so what now?”
I believed I had so much more to do, and yet I realized that in the scheme of things, my life was incredibly insignificant.
I regarded the arc of my life. It has been rich with experiences, some of which no one in their right mind would desire, and yet I viewed them as adventures…the stuff of which great novels or movies are made. Tragedy has a way of breeding heroism.
Now it appeared that I was gravely ill. I refused to accept that my life was about to end, but at the same time, I was afraid.
As one voice exclaims “Wow! What a ride!” another voice asks “Is that it? No more? Is that the best you can do?”
It didn’t matter if I would be missed; it didn’t matter that I thought it was unfair. I was powerless.
Most of that three month period of time, I could not access my computer, or sit in a chair for any length of time.
Eventually, I was able to put pen to paper and sketch out my thoughts, just enough to be able to recall them later..
Needless to say, I am a profoundly changed person.
It seems that authenticity is the new litmus test for everything I see or hear.
As an atheist, there were no Gods to plead for mercy, or whatever deal-making we attempt in those moments of doubt.
Instead, I asked myself “If I get the chance, how and what would I change? Can I learn from my mistakes? Who am I now?.
I see the world through new eyes.
I am finding that as I wrestle with details about my short-term disability, insurance and continuing healthcare issues, I treat people differently than I would have before all this started. Better to convince than to argue, to channel frustration and pain into determination, and strangely enough…compassion.
There is great beauty everywhere, and I am once again inspired.

I do not need to react to ugliness, meanness, or self-pity.
Or to put it into other words, I was injured, and I got sick. I almost died. I was privileged to enjoy a significant break with reality. The posts that will follow are heavily influenced by the experience.
What may appear as adversity may be a blessing in disguise, and vice-versa.
So it all depends on how you look at it.
And it’s all temporary, good or bad, and subject to change without warning.
“The same as it ever was”….

“And now we begin again….”
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Chazz Vincent
* Sometime ago, one of the writers I follow posted a story about a Zen Master who sees everything as neither good nor bad…it just depends. I planned to re-blog it, but couldn’t find the author. Please, if it was you, let me know so I can give the appropriate credit.

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