I had been chatting on the phone with an old friend for first time in quite awhile, talking about my continued wonder at the Lojong Teachings in general, and Tonglen Practice in particular. After a moment's pause, to relax and reconnect with the basic openness of mind -- and to make sure that I really hadn't verbally zigged when I had intended to zag -- I continued.
"No, I actually did mean that I breathe into my heart the difficult and challenging darker emotions that have emerged. Then I breathe out a sense of relief and healing energy with the aspiration that myself and others be free from such suffering and the roots of suffering."
She paused for awhile (perhaps also to relax and reconnect with a basic openness of mind herself in light my rant), and simply replied, "Oh?" She didn't sound convinced.
Hers was not an uncommon response. Raised in a highly materialistic society, the basic premise of this ancient Tibetan Buddhist system of mind training, that opening our hearts to the entire gamut of human emotions rather than grasping at the "good" and pushing away the "bad", is actually the path of Awakening to our True Nature, seems a bit crazy. It most certainly is.
Crazy like a fox.
The Lojong Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, which consist of 59 training aphorisms are supported by two meditation practices: Basic Sitting Practice (Shamatha-Vippasyana) and Tonglen. Each has a role in cultivating our Connection to the essentially miraculous nature of life. Each contributes to our deepening ability to be Present to the Sacred Perfection in which we are immersed -- moment to moment.
As I sit here and pay attention, I become aware of a clear, bright, vast, and open sense of spaciousness. Pausing, I can rest in its embrace. Proceeding, still Connected to this invisible, formless, seemingly limitless expanse of awareness, the dance of my fingers along the surface of this keyboard is flinging words across the screen of an old Mac laptop. Becoming aware of my body and my breath, I see that milliseconds before the fingers move, thoughts emerge instantaneously, seemingly from nowhere in particular. Although, these thoughts are most certainly prompted by my intention to write this blog post, they appear to be emerging by themselves, quite mysteriously. Although Western science claims that they are merely brain secretions of some sort, patently epiphenomal, at this moment it feels much grander than that. There is a Presence, a boundless sense of wonder and joy that emerges from the luminous silence that embraces me, the letters emerging on the screen, the clicking contact of my fingers on the keyboard, the soft humming of the computer.
But, I digress -- sort of.
In a Flash