I'm no expert practitioner, but it seems that my renewed focus on Dream Yoga is working. It's nice to be able to sleep on the job.
In the Dream State, I did -- and I was. Alhamdulillah.
Grief is rarely that easy, but thankfully, it's become easier over the years. I've had lots of help. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to attend retreats with two contemporary American Buddhist masters of a "good cry": Joanna Macy and Stephen Levine. Although the focus of their work is different (Macy empowers Ecological Activists. Levine works with Death and Dying.), each of these gifted Teachers gets to the Heart of the Matter with incredible grace, insight and skill. Through meditation, guided mediation, talks, and interpersonal exercises, they each skillfully guide retreat participants toward an experience of Open Heartedness. True spiritual elders (Macy is 85. Levine, 77), they bring the essence of the Teachings out of the Sutra books, to place the limitless energy of love, compassion and forgiveness squarely in the reality of one's own personal experience. It is high and holy magic.
Conditioned to hold our own pain and the pain of the world at arm's length, encouraged to keep a stiff upper lip, we aren't able to turn towards Life/Death with a compassionate embrace and a loving kiss. As a result, all too often, we then scurry through our lives with a closed heart until we encounter the loss of a loved one. Then, as Stephen Levine points out, our grief may be overwhelming, compounded by the regret that our love was unexpressed.
He encourages us to begin the process of opening our hearts now -- before it's too late.
An Engaged Buddhist, drawing on the Shambala Prophecy she learned from her Tibetan Buddhist teacher Choegyal Rinpoche, the body of work Joanna Macy presents empowers us to become active bodhisattvas, using the non-violent weapons of insight and compassion to dispel the forces that fuel the human misery, warfare, and environmental devastation of our times.
The simple act of sitting down quietly to focus on the sensations of our breath can begin the process. When we take the time to gently and carefully explore our own experience in the reality of the present moment, things change. With Practice, we move from our heads into our hearts.
With commitment, effort, and patience, the Practice continues to deepen over the years. We come to then understand that it's a lifelong endeavor. At certain points we will find the teachers and teachings that resonate with that stage of our journey and we are drawn to intensify our Practice by taking the time and space to join with others to practice in sanghas, retreats and workshops -- or, as I have found, on the streets and in soup kitchens.
|People's Climate March, NYC 2014|
Although I acknowledge the utter impossibility of saving all sentient beings each day as I recite the Bodhisattva Vows (beings are numberless, after all), like many others I've dedicated my life and practice to doing exactly that.
All our loved ones throughout time and space, all the myriad plant and animal species that share this planet with us humanoids, and Mother Earth herself, are crying out to us at this precarious moment in the history of the planet. I can't think of anything better to do.
How about you?
* If you didn't recognize it, the phrase I used is from Che Guevara. In 1965, he wrote "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love."
I basically agree with Che's statement and respect his courage, integrity and sacrifice. I just wonder if he would have lived in a different age and had a "good cry", if he may have chosen Gandhi's non-violent resistance instead to confront the injustice he saw.