I am going through a difficult time emotionally. There I said it. I admitted it. I found out a couple of weeks ago that my uncle (the one with the sweet ride) has lung cancer. He is not a candidate for chemotherapy so all that can be done is to wait. God damn it. This is hitting me harder than I thought it would. I am not exeptionally close to my uncle but I do make a point to see him when I am visiting home when I can. And I care very much about him. And I don’t especially want him to die of lung cancer. So I am sad at this news. Very sad.
Another thing that this is doing is stirring up grief from the death of Doug. I kind of thought I was moving past all of that but I guess not. I am finding myself crying at the most inopportune moments. Like right now while I am sitting in my office writing this. I really hope nobody walks in. (I started writing this post yesterday).
I really dislike these negative emotions and would rather avoid them. I would really rather avoid them. It makes me feel a little nuts. My inner critic beats me down and makes me feel bad for feeling these things because we are “supposed to be positive and happy” but I can’t be that way right now. I am sad and hurting and it is hard to hide the way I am feeling.
Because of this I made the decision a few days ago to cut myself off from Facebook/Twitter/instagram/Etc for awhile. But is this even rational? Why am I cutting myself off from one the ways I connect with other people because I feel bad? I feel like I don’t want others to see this side of me. I feel like I have to save myself from myself because I don’t want to over-share the negative. Why is that? At any rate, I feel safe over here on my blog. I feel like I can just be myself since that I what I do over here and have been doing for years.
In short: LUNG CANCER SUCKS AND I HATE IT.
So yeah. You may find emotional posts in this space for awhile. I am going through a bit of a bad patch and trying to bushwhack my way out.
A friend from my local sangha requested that I write a blog post about something I mentioned at our meeting last week regarding the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts.
I am new to Buddhism (yes, this post starts with a rambly pre-amble). I have studied Zen Buddhism for around 5 years with varying degrees of enthusiasm. One thing that I know, after all of these years of being exposed to the Dharma is that it totally and completely resonates with me. One of the teachings that I have been recently enjoying is the Six Realms. This is not a Zen teaching, it’s origins are based in Tibetan Buddhism. Regardless, it still has been very helpful for me. We have only discussed 4 of the realms so far (and in this order): Hungry Ghost, Human, Heaven, and Titans.
All in all there are six realms and taken together it is the Wheel of Life. The idea is that we are reborn into these realms. Some Buddhists take this idea literally but it can be taken metaphorically. We are reborn moment by moment, karma and rebirth happens continually and, therefore, we can enter into one of these realms several times a day. This is definitely true for me.
So. Hungry Ghosts. The Realm of Hungry Ghosts is a realm of desire. It is the realm of unslakable thirsting. The ghosts in this realm are trying to eat but the food turns to fire. They have skinny necks so that food can’t get into their bellies. They are wanting but never satiated. I find myself in this realm often for a variety of reasons.
There is good news. There is a way out! In Buddhism, there is always a way out, nicely laid out for us in very detailed steps. It’s actually rather simple, too. Each realm has a buddha (or teaching) that represents the way out of that realm. For the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, that “teaching” is simply gratitude. There is probably more to it but I can’t seem to find information online about the buddhas of each realm. But the big takeaway for me when this was taught to me a month ago is that gratitude is the way out of this realm. Guess what? It works!! like magic. I tried this as a practice this past month. When I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t be satiated, I would sit and think about all the things in my life I am grateful for and the suffering of that realm dissolved.
Last night we continued our way through the Wheel of Life. We learned about the Realm of the Titans. This is the realm of envy, competition, and obsession. I find myself here more than I care to admit. It was interesting and helpful to learn about this realm, as well. I want to write about my thoughts about it but I think I will save those for another post. I think I want to let the teaching sink in for a few days first.
Last night in my darkroom class we learned some image manipulation techniques. Weirdly and unexpectedly my teacher mentioned negative stacking. I wasn’t planning on doing this yesterday in the darkroom but I had to give it a shot, since she mentioned it. I picked out a couple of photos from the negatives I had just developed and sandwiched them on the light-box. As soon as I saw the baseball and the alley I knew I had to try it.
I love it! I want to do more. I want to get all cheesy and over the top with it. It would be hilarious if I could take a photo of the murderous, bird-killing neighbor cat and substitute it for the baseball.
This could get scary.
My friend, Miss Gingersnaps, suggested on Twitter that I might be interested in trying this today. She must know me very well because I, indeed, am very interested. So I tried it! And this is what I came up with. I didn’t put much thought into it. The scanner wanted the image to be very blue so I had to do some tweaking both in the scanner software and Lightroom. I didn’t know what I was doing. But there you go. Kind of fun. Maybe I will try it again. It would actually be something fun to try in an actual darkroom.