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Lions Roar : January 2015
MayBe copernicus and Galileo were right about the Earth orbiting the Sun, rather than the other way around. I don’t know about the universe, but in my little world, it all revolves around me! Thoughts and emotions are the planets and asteroids that rotate around the core of me-ness. Whoa, a whole bunch just zoomed past. And here comes another cloud of them... Our thoughts and emotions go round and round in confusion, and this experi- ence is depicted in the wheel of life, an ancient visual teach- ing. At the center of this wheel are three animals: a rooster, represent- ing passion, grasp- ing, and desire; a snake, representing aggression, anger, and hatred; and a pig, representing ignorance and delusion. They are at the hub of the wheel, the central point or focus. Around this hub, complex realms of experience develop, and on the rim of the wheel, we find the dramas that make up cause and effect. All this complexity is generated from that core of three confused emotions, which are often referred to as the three poisons. Sometime in the 1980s, I went with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a group of people to a revolving penthouse res- taurant in San Francisco. You could see the whole city move past you as the restaurant turned. It was the restaurant that was turning, but it seemed as though it was the city. Later that eve- ning, Rinpoche asked me, “How are you?” “I’m still dizzy,” I said, referring to the restaurant experience. “I still feel as though I’m going round and round.” ILLUSTRATIONSBYPETERBAGGE caRolyn RoSe giMian’s writing appears in the new anthology All the Rage: Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance. The Animals Inside You No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get rid of these three destructive animals: anger, desire, and ignorance. But you can make friends with them, says caRolyn RoSe giMian, and ultimately you can transform them. He looked at me intently and said, “Yes, you are.” Hmmm. Point taken. In contemplating the wheel of life, I feel a little guilty about maligning the animal kingdom, so let’s imagine a wheel that substitutes human stereotypes for the emotions. We could replace the ignorant pig (and pigs are actually quite intelligent, by the way) with most teenagers, all couch potatoes, and everyone disappearing mindlessly into their computer screen or mobile device. For the rooster, I’m seeing Imelda Marcos, Donald Trump, and a host of movie stars dressed for the Oscars. For the snake, I can picture drivers struck by road rage, a host of intel- lectual snobs, ter- rorists, assassins, and the passively aggressive Nurse Ratched. I know all of these people quite well, because I regularly invite them on retreat with me. They all arrive, and then, it turns out I’m the only one there. They’re all a part of my projections. I wonder about people who talk about their emotional upheavals in the past tense, as things they used to experience when they first started meditating. The Buddha was visited by the daughters and armies of Mara on the night of his enlighten- ment. He’d been meditating for many years at that point, so this shows us that, on the path to liberation, these characters show up for a long time—even if you’re the Buddha. If you haven’t seen any of them in your meditation practice in quite a while, SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 25