Last Friday I was finally able to see my favorite Dharma teacher at the San Francisco sangha. I had heard his recorded talks before, but this was my first time seeing him. It was completely worth the drive.
Vinny Ferraro is a teacher that speaks in a way that is raw, honest, and passionate. Typically when I listen to other dharma teachers, I’d learn a lot, but I also feel like I have to be someone else to get to experience what they are talking about. Additionally I felt like they had no understanding of where I was coming from (my cultural background, my community challenges, etc.). This tended to leave me thinking “Well that’s easy for you to say”.
But in listening to Vinny, I know he understands what kind of community I lived in. I know he understands, to some degree, the challenges I faced in learning and living the dharma. So it was a pleasure being able to finally attend one of his talks last week.
He guided most of the meditation and in doing this I was reminded to body scan, focus on where I was feeling my breath, and practice the Buddha half-smile. I was deep into my meditation, being present with the sounds around me, allowing thoughts arise and to let them be, and then return to my breath. I was cycling through various cycles of this when all of a sudden Vinny says “it’s more like peeing than pooping. It doesn’t have to be forced.” I felt my internal record scratch to stop as I quickly opened my eyes and my Buddha half-smile turned into a large laughing one.
Let me tell you, it was a challenge to get back still again, but I allowed myself to be where I was. I guess that’s the point right?
Anyhow, the talk was great. My understanding was stretched a bit more as he mentioned that birth and death are one in the same, “It’s like saying; I like sunsets but fuck sunrises”.
He also discussed the concept of not-self. I appreciated his mentioning of our self-perceptions as an illusion. I’ve been seeing this more and more, that my perceptions and stories are nothing but a grand illusion (both of me and others).
All I can really do is extend loving-kindness to any thought or emotions I have and allow things to be like this. This is the Nurturing Parent/Nurturing Self.