Paralyzed and Free!
A quadriplegic man in the hospital for 25 years sees the spaciousness through which all manifestations can arise, including the mind. Was no longer obsessed with the arisings.
Part two of the “Why Practice the Paramis?” podcast from Aug. 23, 2013.
The “he” referred to at the beginning is “Gerry,” who was laid up in the hospital for 8 weeks unable to move. This talk was originally given on Dec. 13, 2007, in Kyoto, Japan.
Listen to part one here: https://www.planetdharma.com/why-practice-the-paramis-part-1-of-2/
He said the thing that got him through was my story about the guy that I met who was a quadriplegic in the hospital in Toronto for 25 years – paralyzed, neck down, 25 years, couldn’t move. Did I tell you that story?
I was a porter. I was making money to travel with my teacher and I took a second shift. Sometimes they’d have second shifts guarding patients. They had their needles, patients would pull their needles out during the night, so they hired porters sometimes to babysit, to make sure that a person doesn’t pull the needle out during the night. And so he fell asleep and my job was done. But the guy in the next bed was quadriplegic. He’d been paralyzed from the neck down for 30- some 25- 30 years. He didn’t have any family, no friends. Nobody, except the nursing. And you know the nurses are nice enough, but they got 600 patients. And they change every couple of days. And they’re in and out and “Hello, Mr. Smith, how are you today?”, “How are you today, Mr. Smith? Okay, let’s change your sheets. Let’s give you a bath. Okay, Mr. Smith.” Twenty-five years of that.
So, we had a long talk about hallucinations and altered states. I mean you can imagine, you’ve got no other feed, right? He was a Hungarian guy. And so we talked about all the hallucinations and the altered states. And I said, “Wow, you must have gone through every hallucination in the book?”
“How did you know?”
“Well, I’m a meditator.”
“Really?”, he said, “Is that what happens when you meditate?”
“Yeah, every hallucination and weird idea and strange feeling. You know, out there all over the place. You know what it’s like, right?”
He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve been through everything”, he said, “Now it’s mostly just flat.”
I said, “Oh well, have you worked on the spaciousness element?”
“What do you mean by spaciousness?”
I said, “Well, just imagine that now that you’ve had all the hallucinations, that it’s one huge empty space through which all manifestations can rise, including your body, including your mind. And you’re just kind of a huge kind of open, spacious emptiness from which everything bubbles forth like Pandora’s box or a cornucopia.
“Okay, ” he said, “Well, I never thought of that.” Because he’s too busy with the arisings. He was obsessed with the arisings, and therefore he was clinging to some and had an aversion to others. So he said, “Okay, I’ll try that.”
I came back a couple of days later and he said, “Wow, this is like freedom. This is fantastic. I am free. What do I do now?”
“What do you want to do now?”
He said, “Nothing”.
I said, “Exactly, right. It’s lighter, with nowhere to go. Nothing to do. You’re out of it, bro.”
He died two weeks later. He says, “Okay, I’ve done it. This is it. I can go. I don’t have to hang on anymore.” He gave his last gift, which was his life. Gave it up.
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