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Zhe Bei Mu Fritillaria: Heaven Entering a Small Personal Space
by Thea Elijah
This is about fritillaria, the cheaper one; not the pearls beyond price…This is the little “chippies”—the colder, cheaper bei mu.
The difference between xing ren and bei mu, is that in the xing ren person everything bothers them. And with the bei mu person something bothers them. Some—one—particular—thing is sticking in their craw. Within the whole tragic, awful, horrible grief situation, this is what really hurts you. This kind of cough—it really hurts. The level of inflammation in there is awful and then this one thing sticks in your craw about whatever it is—whatever happened. There is generally a context of feeling universally awful about the whole situation…but there’s this one thing that “gets” you in the small, sensitive inner place… and that, that’s the thing. And whenever you think of that, that’s when you cough. It’s this thing, and you try to cough it up and you try to make it “not so.” It’s another rebellion, it’s a rebellion against Heaven—but it’s a very specific rebellion against Heaven. And it is the thing that hurts so bad about the whole tragedy.
You know those kinds of cough feel like you have this piece of peanut brittle in your lung and it is sharp and it’s hard… those coughs that hurt so bad it feels like the pain is in your heart? Those “knife in your heart” coughs? And every time you cough it is so strong you couldn’t imagine that such a teeny piece of peanut brittle or whatever the heck that thing is in your lungs… baked phlegm… when you cough, because of the inflammation, that something so small could hurt so bad. It often leads to this sort of lopsided focal spasm in the lung. The way it usually feels is that it is so inflamed around that place that you get this “oh, man, it’s right here” feeling. You get this painfully inflamed lopsided focal lung spasm around it. And then you have lopsided lungs. Inside your chest your lungs are walking along, are breathing or trying to breathe along with this lopsided focal spasm of irritation and pain and stuck-in-clawness, and it creates a distortion—it will make you kinda crazy. I mean, it will make you totally, completely, fanatically unreasonable, on a particular subject.
You’ve got fanaticism already from the primary formula [Xie Bai San], and then on top of the fanaticism you’ve got this one thing that threw the person really “around the bend.” Just threw them around the bend. And then they seize on that one thing in the midst of the going down in flames and darkness that we talked about in the primary formula, and this one thing becomes the focus of this spasm in your fabric of meaning in life, and it can really make you crazy. We’re talking about coughing craziness, or—I am trying to think of a good example. It is more than just fanaticism. Fanaticism is the backdrop for something very distorted happening; something very distorted around something specific. I’ve seen it in divorces where the whole thing is going down in flames and everybody is in destroying mode—just knifing each other to death. There is also this way it can get fanatically and insanely specific: “he’s not going to get the car; he is not going to get it… I am not letting him, no matter what; he is not getting the car” and it is seized on this crazy way with all that heat, that little sharp bit of baked phlegm … “he’s not going to get the car” or whatever it is—“he is not going to get that”. And it becomes this distortion in the whole field and thus the new focal point for the fanaticism… I don’t know how to express in other words this lung field distortion of meaning in life that happens. Because of this distortion in the lung, you are now breathing Heaven somehow “crooked”. It is a distortion in your whole sense of values in life—it is crazy—it is loco—I mean this is like really the person is now loco coughing like mad over that thing. It’s nuts! Man!
And what does the herb do? Well, the first thing it does is cool—a lot! It really is fairly quickly cooling. Bringing in the cold, it brings in the quick freeze-gun to the spot. As a result, a really specific type of mourning comes in. This is true with the other bei mu also. Because sometimes grief needs to be so very, very specific. The specificity of loss. You know how sometimes you may have lost everything… your house burns down and you lost everything, but what makes you actually break down in tears is the light blue stuffed animal puppy dog, that was your stuffed puppy dog when you were little… and you have a kind of choice about losses like that. One is that you can actually become kind of insane because of it. Somehow it’s not even the entire loss of everything, your whole house, that makes you go around the bend. That big loss is just what makes you devastated. But it is the loss of the little blue puppy dog that can actually make you go warped, insane with grief.
The alternative to going insane and having your entire value system get warped and start fanatically coughing, rejecting Heaven, is that you can grieve not only in general for the tragedy of the loss as a whole; you can also grieve so very, very specifically for “my little blue dog.” Oh, oh my little one, my dear little …and it is so tiny… it’s the sharp, tiny, painful slivers of grief against a huge background of grief. You do need to cry those tears, too, for the huge background grief; but that is the rest of the formula.
Zhe bei mu says you must cry about your little doggie, this tiny, little thing that is so poignant that in some ways is more knife-like than the whole, whole thing—it all comes down to this: … that when you left me for another woman you also took “the”. Or that you did… whatever it is… that small thing. And so the zhe bei mu helps turn a person from the insanity about it, about the specificity of what’s sticking in your craw and making you crazy, into this deep, deep cherishing place. Because really it all comes down to love. It all comes down to cherishing …and it comes down to: It’s amazing how much of Heaven can be in something so tiny. That’s a miracle. It’s a miracle of God, it’s a miracle of nature, and very much of human nature. Isn’t it truly extraordinary, just how much love could go into a little blue puppy dog? You know? Isn’t it incredible? How much love, how much value is capable of attaching to something so little?
Somebody dies and it is the way they touched your hair, maybe even only once…that is actually what you need to specifically mourn for, and go into the narrow, narrow pass, the Narrow Defile, the private inner space of grief, and it hurts, oh it hurts so much, but going into it hurts better than coughing and derangement. To go into it, and go “oh, oh” and cry and keen; the wailing is deep and huge but there is a very, very narrow inner space of keening to move through. It is so private. It’s so very, very personal. No one else would understand. Or so you assume. The little blue dog, the little plate that broke—whatever the thing is. It’s gone, it’s gone. It symbolizes the whole thing. It all comes down to this. Now you’ve got to go in there, to that very sharp and very specific grief. It is going to hurt, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt…
When you’re in the grief, needing the herb, of course, it already hurts. You can’t escape the hurt. The choice is, is it going to hurt in the way of that knife-like coughing focally deranged person rejecting Heaven, or is it going to hurt in a way that is really a hurting of love and a willingness to hurt this much, in order to cherish this much. “I didn’t even know I could cherish this much until I lost it.” And it really does feel like moving through a very, very narrow space—because a lot of Heaven was coming into a very, very narrow space; narrow as aveoli. It’s so narrow… And you have to go IN and go through the narrow space. And as you go through the narrow space it does start to get wider on the other side. But you have to go into the sharpness. It’s daunting; it starts out looking as though you are going through a doorway that is shaped like a knife blade and you have to go right into the sharpness and to say I am going to enter here and keen here and mourn here and go into the love. And it does open as you go in, if you are willing to go in. It does open and you say “Ahh” and you cry and you cherish and you love and you get the most important thing.
The prize is the most important thing, which is your ability to love like that. Your ability to cherish like that. Your ability to see Heaven not only in the grand and universal but in the small and personal. Which is such an incredible and important thing, to be able to say “the little picture my daughter made—how precious, how much it means, perhaps not to everyone but so very much to me.” How wonderful to be able to take little things—these very small and personal things—and be able to touch so much of Heaven in them, through them.
So. As with all the other herbs, the person who is prone to this kind of coughing is also the person who is prone to the virtue of being able to cherish Heavenly value in the very small and personal things. To cherish Heaven in a crumpled up napkin that the beloved left behind—to find it, kiss it, love it. Heaven in a very small thing. It is a very beautiful way of love, to be able to be brought to tears by such small things. Not in a cheap, sentimental way, but seeing the priceless in the transient as it passes. Let us so love one another. Let us hold precious both the great and the small. It is such a pleasure and honor and a holiness to be with you here right now, just us together, Heaven entering a very small personal space.