Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Padma - the wisdom of discriminating awareness

This post is derived from a series of essays I wrote last year on the five Buddha families, represented by the five-colored prayer flags hung outside to catch the breeze, which spreads the prayers to all beings. Each family has a season, a symbol, and an energy quality which can be experienced in either its wisdom or neurotic aspect. We all have the capacity for expressing and experiencing each of the five Buddha family energies.

The heat of summer, the flowers, the sultry air, all speak of the red Buddha family, Padma.

The symbol of Padma is the lotus, which is rooted in murky depths and blossoms in the clear open surface of the water. Padma is about
relationships, and moving from confusion toward clarity. Padma in its neurotic state is seductive, fantasy-oriented and indiscriminate. This confusion leads to codependence, narcissism and poor boundaries. “I’ll do anything, you can treat me however you want, just love me and make me feel worthwhile” is the refrain of Padma neurosis. A feeling of desperation and self-absorption prevails; a clinging to what we think will make us happy. In Padma neurosis we reject anything that does not fit our notion of how things should be in our personal universe. We do not see how things actually are. Denial rules.

In its wisdom aspect, Padma manifests as Discriminating-Awareness Wisdom. This means we see clearly what is happening in the moment, and what is called for. We understand the details of our interpersonal dynamics and are able to take precise action to correct misunderstandings and imbalances. Chogyam Trungpa says, “When Padma neurosis is transmuted, it becomes fantastically precise and aware; it turns into tremendous interest andinquisitiveness… The genuine character of Padma…is real openness, a willingness to demonstrate what we have and what we are to the phenomenal world.”

The wisdom and neurosis aspects of any way of being in the world are inextricably linked. The path to wisdom is simply
being present with whatever we are experiencing. Padma energy supports the practice of presence with a devotion to detail and a basically curious nature. If we are to understand how we do things, and the impact of our beliefs and actions, we need to investigate with a sense of friendly curiosity. In our willingness to see our situation and ourselves clearly, without judgment and criticism, we make friends with ourselves in whatever state we are in. In this open awareness arises the understanding that wisdom is present in whatever we do. With this clear seeing, we can relax a bit and enjoy the open moment, appreciate the delicate scent of a blossom or the path a bird traces through the air.