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Thursday, January 15, 2004

The mutual possession of the Ten Worlds is as difficult to believe as fire existing in a stone or flowers within a tree. Yet under the right conditions such phenomena actually occur and can be believed. To believe that Buddhahood exists within Humanity is the most difficult thing of all--as difficult as believing that fire exists in water or water in fire."

Today was the fourth anniversary of Jose's death. He was a gentle soul, but the circumstances of his life appeared so bleak to him that he could not accept any encouragement from anyone else: his beloved wife was leaving him, taking with her the apple of his eye, his baby daughter, and in a second of despair and overwhelming rage he shot just one bullet into his heart.

He didn't get many breaks in life, and those he did get did not make the grade. He was born to a family swamped in drugs and unceasing violence. His own mother used to beat him with a lead pipe and broke his bones on several occasions. The older members of his sad little tribe wanted him to assist them in their drug-dealing activities. The only way he found to escape this low life was to join the U.S. army. This became a refuge for him, where he could live a clean life, where he supported others and felt supported in return, where he belonged.

He had bad back problems, however, possibly from his many childhood beatings, which the army surgeons could not fix, and eventually the army chose to discharge him, because he was no longer sufficiently able-bodied or useful. Unfortunately, his army experience had not educated him for anything other than a security guard position, and his physical condition limited the scope of opportunities open to him to some sort of desk duty job. By now, he was newly married, with one child and another on the way. He and his wife came to the conclusion it would be best for him to go to night school, so that he might get the necessary education to get a real job, and in the meantime she would support the family. Jose thus became "dad at home" with the baby, saving the cost of a fulltime babysitter, doing the cleaning and cooking. It appeared almost ideal, as it meant the kid was always being taken care of by one of her parents.

What went wrong? The wife fell out of love, she started to resent being the only breadwinner, she hated her job, she wanted a more exciting life, she felt trapped, she resented her husband's "diamond in the rough" state, she started wishing she had got herself someone more advanced, socially and economically, she started wishing she could keep the child and lose the husband, she started resenting his lack of education, she started abusing him verbally, "Get in the car, you ***hole!", she screamed at him, that kind of thing.

Then she packed and left, without a word.

Just packed up, stuffed all her gear and the baby into her car and drove off.

She probably hadn't even reached the highway before he went into his car, and shot himself one single bullet into the heart, where he hurt the most, with his old army gun, in the driver's seat. Nowhere for him to go...

Jose was a sweet, sweet soul. He had a tremendous potential that no one in his intimate circle recognized. It was his karmic burden not to evoke in any human being close to him the desire to help him see for himself how worthy his life was of being lived to the fullest.

For weeks, nay months before he killed himself, I spent hours on the phone with Jose discussing his situation. He never appeared suicidal to me (and I have a lifetime experience of suicidal people, my brother was suicidal for years), he sounded just like someone experiencing great anguish with courage and determination. I would have described him as a saddle-sore rider who just needed a leg-up to get back into the saddle in order to ride our the hard times.

I believe that when his wife left with the baby, it looked to him as if the sunshine had been eclipsed forever from his life and he just could not bear the idea of living forever in the dark.

I believe that if he had had a close friend to whom he could have reached out to, that dreadful morning, to whom he could have blazed his pain, his rage and his powerlessness, he would not have killed himself.

As I remember Jose's death, I am reminded of the thousands upon thousands of human beings who are experiencing a similar loss these days, everywhere and every day, whether through natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods, or through manmade disasters caused by our greed, anger and stupidity, leading to war, famine and plague.

Sometimes I am just like the Grinch, and my heart feels two sizes too small to absorb all this pain.
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