"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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Love Affair

“We now see that the only way that we could love ourselves is by loving others, 
and the only way that we could truly love others is to love ourselves. 
The difference between self-love and love of others is very small, 
once we really understand.”
― Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: 
Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong  

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people 
who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
― Pema Chödrön

As I've mentioned before, here and elsewhere, I think the Hippies had it right.  It IS all about Peace and Love.  

Although most of us were a bit too young and crazy to pull it off in our lives, we had been to the mountain top.  We saw the Real Deal.  But seeing that-- and even believing that -- isn't enough.

The task of actually being a peaceful and loving human being is no mean feat.  It takes commitment, effort, discipline, courage and patience.

It takes Practice.

In the Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist worlds the term Love isn't generally used to describe the Ultimate State of Being. They approach the Ineffable with different concepts and understandings.  I think that is actually pretty helpful to us Westerners.  We are pretty sloppy with the word "love". 

For us, the word "love" can emerge from the ethereal domain of agape, from the nether realms of green eyed monsters, or anywhere in between.  "I love you so much that I'll kill anyone who looks at you, then you, too..." isn't exactly what Jesus had in mind when he taught about Love, right?  It seems at least a bit more precision would be helpful.

In the tradition of Mindfulness Practice that precision doesn't just emerge as a matter of intellectual discernment.  It emerges from refining our ability to be fully aware of our own experience in the present moment.  With Practice, Love emerges not exclusively as an emotional state, but as a quality of consciousness, our own inherent ability to be Present to Life, moment to moment, with a clear, calm, kind, and compassionate awareness.   

It may seem preposterous that taking the time to Just Sit Still to carefully observe one's own breath and bodily sensations could lead to the realization of True Love, but that's the deal.  It's just that simple.

Of course, simple doesn't mean easy.  A regular meditation practice takes commitment and courage.  It takes the willingness to face yourself -- and all that you've denied and repressed -- openly and honestly.  It takes getting our of your head and feeling what's in your heart.  Again and again and again.

Yet, with persistent and gentle effort, Mindfulness emerges and deepens.  With Practice, our minds clear and our hearts open to embrace and explore all the patterns of feeling, thought and action that operate to diminish and distort our ability to be at peace in the present moment.  Over time, both on and off the meditation cushion, we see clearly that the conditioned patterns of grasping and pushing away, and the resultant pains, fears and resentments that emerge in ourselves -- and in others -- are the root cause of human suffering.   We also come to see clearly that, like everything else, those feelings are fundamentally insubstantial, clouds passing through the infinity of a clear sky.  This changes everything.

Then, at a certain point, we knowIn the embrace of Mindfulness, Reality asserts itself.  What has appeared to separate us from ourselves, from one another, and from the One Love that silently sings throughout all space and time dissolves.  At that point, we can meet anyone's eyes.  Life itself becomes a Love Affair.  

It just takes Practice.

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