"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

On the Road Again

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

" I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step."
Thich Nhat Hahn

This journey didn’t start with a single step exactly.  I staggered through a series of missteps and minor mishaps, stumbled through several misdirections and mistakes.  Originally planned as a “mini-tour”, spending time with friends in NYC and the Jersey Shore, Life interjected a series of changes that have me on a Peter Pan bus three days later than the original image. In the process “the Plan” has changed a number of times and a handful of unused tickets lay strewn in my wake.  

 Now, here I am, perched on a Peter Pan bus with Wi-fi, on the Road to New York City—finally. 

As always, Life is being just what it always is; a dynamic, everchanging, fluid, web of causes and conditions. If fortune graces this particular permutation of “the Plan”, I should be able to spend some time with my good buddhy Howard this evening and again on Sunday.  An unanticipated “day off” on Saturday (Howard now has to go to NJ for the day) could have me just hanging loose in Astoria or wandering over to Manhattan, maybe picking and grinning in a park somewhere.  And, although I can plan it one way or the other, I really won’t “know” until I get there. (It’s not unlikely that I’ll do neither or both of the above.)

In traditional Buddhism and Hinduism the ultimate goal of spiritual practice is often characterized as “liberation”.  In Christianity this notion of ultimate “freedom” from the vagaries and vissicitudes of Life is also found.  Jesus was reported have said “Then you shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”  Freedom is cool, right?

More so than some other cultures, we Americans are steeped in ideas about the value of personal freedom.  For many of us, our perceived quest for freedom has often involved figuring out how to extricate ourselves from external forces, to free ourselves from the expectations and demands of others.  If only “they” would go away—whether that is the State or our Mom—we’d be free.  Then we can really step out and do as we please.  That seems simple enough, right?

Why then does Pema Chodron’s root guru, Chogyam Trungpa, entitle one of his books The Myth of Freedom? Maybe something else is going on.

The Practice, more than anything, involves examining the process of our own Life as carefully and deeply as possible.  If we engage this inquiry with a degree of steadfastness and a modicum of skill, we come to see for ourselves that it really isn’t the expectations and demands of others that imprison us, it’s our very own expectations and demands--on ourselves and others--that most often create the shackles that we drag along with each step we take.  At the deepest levels, our need to control our world to fit our own models of who we are and what we think we need can keep us stumbling along feeling very un-free.   

With Practice, we come to see how this process can and does operate in our own lives moment to moment.  Seeing that clearly, the next step isn’t so much a matter of deciding to let go. Things just shift.  Life emerges as it will and the journey boils down to taking this very step.  More so than a set destination, our basic intentions inform the direction and nature of that step.

And now, I discover that the Wi-fi isn’t working anymore and there is no electricity in the onboard outlet! So, once again, the Plan— to have this entry on the Web on Friday afternoon—has dissolved. 

I trust that this will make it to the web on Saturday morning--or not! 

(Although I'll be on the Road, Michelle Tetreault will open the doors for the Beginner's Mind and Beyond Intro to Meditation Group at 8:30 on Monday, August 5.  The Early Bird Meditation Session 7:00-8:30 is cancelled for the day.  Things will return to abnormal on Monday, August 12.)

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