Killing ‘Me’ Softly

I have a nighttime dream in which I see a skull floating in the sky. The skull is round and joyful, a cartoonish image with a blindfold covering its eye sockets. All of a sudden, Lama Rinchen appears and I hastily arrange for him to offer a teaching. While we wait for students to arrive, I ask him for the meaning of my dream. He pulls out a sacred text all about the skull wearing a blindfold. He says the image depicts killing with love.

I remember a song lyric made famous by Roberta Flack that speaks of “Killing me softly with his song.” My dream seems to mirror a similar sentiment. From a Buddhist point of view we might sing, “Killing the ‘me’ softly with unconditional love.” The all pervading light of compassionate awareness is always poised to eradicate the ‘me’. Just like Manjushri’s sword of wisdom hovers over our head, ever ready to sever the sprouts of suffering, our ego-clinging does not survive pristine awareness. So the ‘me’ is stripped bare, flayed down to the bones. 

But the skull wears a blindfold. I suppose it represents how the light of love is free of judgment. Love is blind—it does not separate out characteristics and assign valuations. Only ‘me’ cares about such things. Imagine if our human inclination to kill was turned metaphorically inward. We would be laid bare, vulnerable and sensitive to the suffering of others. And our prayer would be to gracefully listen to the song of Dharma as it liberates our ego with fierce compassion. 

This may sound uncomfortable, but the Dharma path is not always pretty. We walk it nonetheless. We transcend our limited human experiences by being thoroughly who we are: messy emotional beings producing acts of great love. All the great masters who walk among us only serve to sing us the song that slays us, collecting our flowing emotions into pools of water to quench the thirst of all beings.

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