The first time I saw Buddhism was watching What’s Love Got To Do With It? I watched Angela Basset recite mantras with incense and thought to myself wonderingly, I like that. I didn’t even know the mantra she was saying, but I felt my heart skip. In Catholic school, I was told that believers of other religions would go to Hell, so I was really confused with my feelings in response to her words. I could not understand. (as an aside, I really also struggled wrapping my head around Cowboy Curtis kicking a woman’s ass…)
I realized yesterday I had some foreshadowing going on there. The scene in the movie, where she has a breakdown – I know that feeling. I remember heading to the mental hospital for the first time, and I thought “man I know how Tina felt.” Obviously, we both share a history of abuse and an affinity for Buddha.
Yesterday, I realized why. Abuse shatters your understanding of love. Each shard of that love is poisoned and courses in your veins and affects every facet of your life. Where you once felt happiness and peace, fear resides. Protection becomes a mindset, and blame becomes a way of life. It’s being given a blank equation and asked to solve it.
“Why?” is a constant question. I obsess with figuring things out. I’ve always struggled with fate, destiny, love, abuse, and God have all been inextricably linked. What God would set me up to get my ass kicked? What’s love has got to do with it? (got to do with it) In all my questions, the answer is – nothing at all, because none of it was love. The Buddha helps me to understand that nothing is “good” or “bad”. It just is. The dharma of life is that we are meant to be as we are, every moment I am in, I was meant to be.
…So I was meant to get my ass kicked? I was meant to be verbally abused? In the movie, she was chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo – “I honor the Universal Law of Cause and Effect” – it releases current karma and opens the door for new possibilities. I swear, when I heard this chant, it resonated with my soul. I was a kid; it came out 24 years ago, so 10? I was the same age as my oldest; it was the same time I started meditating and collecting crystals. ( I was a really freaking deep kid! )
It all finally makes sense to me. All that I was makes me all that I am. This is how I was meant to learn the true nature of love. Call it what you will, but it seems to me I’ve been fed breadcrumbs my whole life, to get me here. Sitting on my patio yesterday, those words echoed in my mind, and my perception changed completely.
I no longer believe I will go to hell for finding Buddhism, because I have already been there. Hell is the absence of love. I no longer believe I have to choose between religions, because I believe that God is as much inside of me as above. I believe we all walk our own distinct path to find ourselves and our idea of God. When something or someone takes your power away from you, you know the true meaning of “Higher Power” whether or not you acknowledge it. I’ve always bounced between thinking I can do anything and everything to I’m a helpless victim. Impermeability is the concept that can get me out of bed some days. I have lived as a slave to my past for too long. Why is not a relevant question, because in truth, every morning, I open my eyes and begin anew or I can choose to repeat. Buddha’s teachings placed the power back inside me.
I believe that love is a constant, it’s us people that screw it all up. The beauty of karma, to me, is that it is not a score-keeping mechanism. It is the fruit of your intention. Coming away from beating myself with all my past crap, I realize one pattern. I hurt myself, and I teach others to hurt me. It doesn’t matter where it started or who did what, because it is over, and I am still here. The fact that I am still here is proof that all is as it was meant to be.
I’ve always thought “I have bad karma” and I was right and wrong. For one, there is no good or bad, so I’m wrong, but I do set an intention of being hurt. When you allow your heart to pump poison inside of you – treating yourself like crap, speaking to/about yourself like crap, and so forth, your karma will be crap. The only true score keeper is you, because I’m confident now that love and forgiveness wipe away everything, as long as you choose it. Acceptance is the second greatest gift you can give yourself.
At 34, I am actually/finally learning how to love. What has drawn me to The Buddha is his words help me understand the true nature of love. When you have been abused, your mind changes as does your body. Neither feel like yours anymore; they have become alien. Your notions of power and safety aren’t yours anymore, because they have been taken. Seriously, who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken? Once you feel that pain, why on earth would you ever want to feel it again?!
Who needs a mind, when a mind can be broken, for that matter? I have allowed so many to control me and my mind. By taking the authorship of my life into my own hands, I understand what love actually feels like. I said to a friend, “The most beautiful people in the world are the ones who have suffered abuse or addiction and overcome it. They know, deeply, what life feels like in the absence of love, and they do not want anyone to feel it.” I mean, look at Tina Turner! It may seem silly that a movie when I was 10 years old changed me as much as it did, even if it was a few decades later, but her autobiography has become a compass for me, and it’s all from recalled memory.
I genuinely believe, as you get older, life wears away your inherent wisdom. Her singing the mantras has never once left my mind. After Jack and I separated, I turned to the church, but I found myself struggling more. In truth, I felt like a liar or a fake. When I began meditating and embracing Buddha, I felt as though I was coming home. In either religion, love and forgiveness are the core. My experiences with my childhood wisdom lead me to believe I’ve been on this blue and green orb more than once.
I believe now, that as a woman who is truly learning to love herself, I will never accept anything less from anyone else. The Universal Law of Cause and Effect is showing me how much more beautiful the world can be when love is your only answer.
…I just had to go back in time to remember a lesson I learned when I was a little girl watching a movie.