Tuesday, July 08, 2008

the gift of kindness

If anyone has been looking for me, you may have thought I have fallen off the edge of the world. Perhaps I did. It seems the edge of the world is not as solid or fixed as we once imagined.
Hard to explain my silence. Not that I have been silent at all, as anyone who sees me during the day will confirm. But the appearance of my life has a different rhythm, and I have not yet found the space for writing this blog. I have been working more with the rescue dogs, often leaving me tired after the heat of morning walks, and the computer is in a small office that I share with someone, so the mental space from which words are drawn has seemed less accessible.
Even now, I will not say much. I am writing this in MD, in a household of nuns, all of whom have retired for the night leaving me - on AZ time and wide awake! - in a quiet space where words can flow. Tomorrow I leave for 1 month retreat, a welcome blessing for which I am most grateful.
I apologise for anyone who may have looked for new posts and found the cupboard bare. And most especially for those who asked questions of me, and found a reply of silence.
Lucky is still here - I will post photos on my return. She is blossoming; growing quite a lot of hair - liberally sprinkled with white. She spends her evenings inside and her days in her yard. She has an air of contentment. We are getting a few more dogs from Taiwan in late August - Ms Wu has managed to keep them thus far, but their time has run out, and this is their last opportunity to live. You can see them here - that is BaiBai on the home page.
The question was posed as to how one becomes a Dakini? I am no scholar at all, and this could be a bigger answer, I am sure....
A Dakini is a female wisdom being, who has accomplished the state of awakening, and is a display of pure wisdom and compassion. They bring the activity aspect of the Dharma alive in the world.
To awaken to this state, one engages in a path of compassion and wisdom, of living a life committed to loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Someone like Jetsunma, who is considered a Dakini, has in the past accomplished the pure qualities of awakened compassion, and so comes to this world for the sole purpose of bringing benefit and ending suffering.
Tara's Babies rescue, created by Jetsunma, is such an activity. It has certainly provided me with countless opportunities to change, to grow, to soften and open my heart. I still resist, habits run deep, but there are moments, such as with Rosie above, when I am deeply grateful for what I am offered.
Rosie was a local rescue in AZ. At our Sanctuary I was terrified of her, would not work with her. A pitbull/rottie mix she can be ferocious at the fence, and I fell into stereotyping her, despite others telling me what a sweet dog she is. No way!
Well, she moved to MD when I was there this winter. While her yard was being built, she had to spend quite some days in a crate, and there was no-one to walk her. I had no choice. Stiffly, fearfully I took her out. Then I fell in love. Allowing myself to relax and breathe, I discovered there was nothing to fear. She is a loving, beautiful, obedient dog, who flinches sometimes, clearly having known abusive wrath in the past.
My last night there she slept in my bed, cuddled like a teddy bear. I was sorry to say goodbye. She is still yearning for a home, and will make a most loving and faithful companion, if you know anyone searching for such a dog. Contact us at tarasbabies@earthlink.net.
Rosie taught me much in those couple of weeks, about fear, about assumptions and judgement, about offering and receiving love. About softening the heart and trying to see the world through the eyes of someone in need. For me, this is the preciousness of the Dharma I have met through Jetsunma. It is about learning to engage with the world with qualities that are both simple and immense.
The study and the traditional foundation of teachings are critical to deepening and opening the mind, hence the great blessing of retreat. But the essence is to live, to be, an ever-deepening river of kindness and compassion - aware, responsive, courageous. We can learn this from the wise words and examples of those whose lives are always a reflection of thse qualities. But it is up to us to translate - with our hearts and our actions - every moment of our lives into a gift of kindness to the world.


Anonymous said...

Dear Ani ~ So wonderful to have another window's view into your life at Dakini Valley. Thank you for the update on Lucky! Very happy to hear she's well. Have a beautiful retreat with Holiness. I am not able to be there this year. Hopefully I will make it back in 2009. Also, my blog has been deleted. You might want to remove the link from your page when you have a spare moment in your schedule. Take care of yourself, Kunzang. Please know you have been a source of strength for me during this past year of much change and growth. Hope to see you again. ~ Rigpai

Tom said...

It gives me joy that Lucky is blossoming and well cared for. I look forward to any photos you post.