Monday, August 06, 2007

Row, row, row your boat....

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream

I haven't thought of this rhyme in about 10 years but it suddenly sprang into my mind this morning. It was triggered by a most unlikely source - Buddhism.

I was reading a book by Pema Chodron called Start Where You Are. Pema is an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun and although I'm not a Buddhist, I've always found her books offer me a sense of comfort and peace especially during difficult times in my life. If you're curious you can find out more about Pema and her books

Anyway, I was reading about a concept where you should 'regard all dharmas as dreams'. This sounds deep and confusing but it's actually quite straightforward.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that whatever you experience in your life is like something in a dream.

Pema explains in her book (it's a bit long but I think really worth a read):

We went for a walk this morning but now it is a memory. Every situation is a passing memory. Just a few moments ago, you were standing in the hall and now it is a memory. But then it was so real.

Although you might think things are solid, they are like passing memory. All that arises in your mind - hate, love and all the rest - is not solid.
The key is, it's no big deal. We could all just lighten up. Regard all dharmas as dreams. With our minds, we make a big deal out of ourselves, out of our pain, and out of our problems.

If someone instructed you to catch the beginning, the middle, and the end of every thought, you'd find that they don't seem to have a beginning, middle, and end. It's like trying to see when water turns into steam. You can never find the precise moment. Everything is like that.

Have you ever been caught up in the heavy-duty scenario of feeling defeated and hurt and then somehow for no particular reason, you just drop it? We all know this feeling of how we make things a big deal and then realize that we're making a lot out of nothing.

Quite profound, I think. It made me look at my problems from a completely new perspective. It was when I was thinking about this that it came upon me that life itself is like a dream and that's when the rhyme came to mind.

Who would have thought that all these years, one of the great teachings of Tibetan Buddhism was also to be found within the simplicity of a child's rhyme?

pic of lotus courtesy of
pic of dhow courtesy of yours truly *grins*

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