with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck."
"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
for dealing with the darknesses of other people."”
Adrift in delusions of grandeur, I sometimes joke about beginning a high profile advertising campaign for Monday Morning Mindfulness with full page bold print ads, billboards and television commercials proclaiming something like:
Want Sadness, Fear, Disappointment, Boredom and More?
Besides possibly getting sued by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others, I don't think I'd get much action. As Pema Chödrön points out, the actual process of meditation seems "counter-intuitive". At a certain point, we decide to sit still and face what we have always fled from. Who needs that?
Most of us do.
In fact, with Practice, we come to see that it is precisely our willingness and ability to carefully examine the nature of our own subconscious with a modicum of gentleness and ease that unlocks the Gateless Gate of Ease and Joy. When we finally face our fear and wander down into the basement with all its ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night, then learn how to
embrace the skeletons that we've thrown in our own closet over the years, a new world opens up. We come to see that all the aspects of ourselves and our experience that we've deemed unpleasant, infuriating, disappointing, embarrassing, humiliating and otherwise "unacceptable", can be cradled in the compassion of our own boundless hearts -- and healed. It is Transformative.
As we commit to Practice, this process unfolds not only on the meditation cushion, it also occurs in our interactions with others in a pretty interesting manner. We find that those people who drive us crazy become some of our best teachers. When we exhibit "judgment mind" and notice ourselves pointing the finger at someone else, we come to see that we are probably missing the point. Through the mechanism of psychological projection; the thoughts, feelings, motivations, and desires that we are unable to accept in ourselves and have repressed are often attributed to others, even though they may not exhibit them very strongly--or at all! If we are having a difficult time with someone else, it could very well be that we ought to take a deeper look at ourselves in the mirror of Practice.
Although in the modern era this understanding of the human subconscious was developed by Freud, it goes much further back in Buddhist notions about the operation of Mind. It was also presented by Yogi Jesus, most famously as the teaching about the the mote and the plank:
Although what became Christianity seems to have been distorted long ago as the teachings of the Prince of Peace were co-opted by what became the warlike Holy Roman Empire, it seems to me that the Son of Man and the Buddha were on the same page about the One Love which connects us all. In the Clear Light of Mindfulness, the wisdom of "judge not and ye shall not be judged" becomes self-evident. The karma is instant. You are either are Present for yourself and others with an Open Heart and an Open Mind -- or you're not. If you're paying attention, you'll notice.
I love it when that happens.
(* interestingly, although the word hypocrite has taken on extremely judgmental connotations, it merely meant "actor" in the Greek of the New Testament, someone who was playing a scripted role, not truly being themselves.)