Friday, April 17, 2009

Logic in the Sky

I don't know much about astrology other than it's always offered an accurate explanation for whatever is happening in my life. I haven't asked any astrology friends to take a peek, but for the past two or three weeks I would bet that some planet has moved into some weird alignment with some other celestial body. And I bet that bizarre partnership has glued itself right onto whatever piece of the sky governs bureaucracies.

At least in my sky. Lately, every single bureaucracy I deal with seems to have divorced itself from logic.

Case in point : One of my doctors wants to decrease the dosage of a drug from 25 mg to 2 mg. My insurance company required a pre-authorization for the 25 mg dose, so we figured it would certainly apply to the much lower dosage. Wrong! That would be the logical assumption, and that ain't the game this month.

In fact, they couldn't even authorize the lower dose because they didn't have that dose registered in their computer.

"It doesn't exist," they told me.
"Yes it does," I insisted. "I have seen it with my own eyes."

So they connected me to their pharmacist who said, "It does exist," while they remained on the line and listened.

"Okay, so everything's good, right?"
"No. It may exist in the pharmacy computer, but it doesn't exist in ours."
"But...aren't you at the same company?"
"Yes, but we are using different systems."
"But it's the same company."
"Using different systems."
"So the pharmacy computer knows something your computer doesn't?"
"That's right."
"How do I get the pharmacy's system to explain it to your system?"
"It can't be done. Your drug does not exist to us."
"Are you in a Black Hole?"
"Never mind. How can I get my drug?"
"We have to send a request to the technical services department to have your drug entered into the system."
"Okay, that's great. So, what-- like a day or two?"
"No, it can take weeks."
"How many?"
"No one knows."
"But I need the drug."
"I'm sorry, but it doesn't exist."

Over the course of (I wish I were kidding) four hours, numerous supervisors and other departments were brought into the conversation. It was determined that the easiest solution was to get 5 mg pills and cut them in half, because they had those in their computer.

I paged my doctor for a new prescription. He was baffled, "Why can't they get the 2 mg?"
"They said it doesn't exist."
"Yes it does. "
"Are you sure?"
"I've seen it."

After getting the 5 mg prescription faxed to the insurance company, getting the pre-authorization, getting the Pre-authorization Department to speak to the Customer Service Department and getting everything faxed to the pharmacy, I arrived at the pharmacy.

"I'm sorry, we don't have that."
"Why not?"
"It doesn't exist."
"Yes it does. I have seen it with my own eyes. My doctor has seen it. The insurance company has it in their computer, and they even have a computer that lives in a Black Hole."
"Well, according to our computer it doesn't exist."
"According to the Buddha, neither do I."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Hitch

Today's Rigpa Glimpse of the Day was :

Even Buddha died. His death was a teaching to shock the naive, the indolent, and the complacent, to wake us up to the truth that everything is impermanent and death an inescapable fact of life. As he was approaching death, Buddha said:

Of all footprints
That of the elephant is supreme.
Of all mindfulness meditations
That on death is supreme

Like everyone else, when I first heard such teachings as a new student, I thought it was pretty depressing. Like, if death is inevitable, then what's the point of dwelling on it? Why not just live my life to the fullest each day and when time runs out, I'll just pack up and go quietly? The hitch is, that unless we keep death in mind we don't live each day to its fullest. We can't squeeze the joy out of every happy moment unless we are constantly aware that those moments won't last.

Without keeping death in mind, we'll never work diligently enough to uproot our negativities. We'll continue to allow ourselves hatred, greed and ignorance, harming ourselves and others, thinking we can take care of that icky stuff sometime in the future.

Before moving to Maryland I purged my possessions of anything excess, anything that felt heavy to me. Among those things were journals I had kept from age 13 to 32. For the first time ever I read them all the way through. It was utterly shocking to see that through all those years--my teens, my twenties and my early thirties-- I struggled with the same exact habitual tendencies that I do now and was completely unaware of it. Because the journals spanned so many years, I couldn't dismiss any of it as just a phase. It was like watching a bird fly into a window again and again.

Those habits are deeply ingrained and many days I wonder if I can really uproot them all in one lifetime. My Lama says it's possible, as does an unbroken lineage of fully enlightened beings stretching all the way back to Buddha. So I dig in and get to work while I still have this life. Meanwhile, she waves her arms, jumps in the way, shouts to get my attention-- whatever it takes to keep this bird from hitting the window again.