"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.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What Were You Expecting?

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage 
and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

"Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, 
nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which 
we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games,
our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes. "
― Chögyam Trungpa  

I guess I've always been a bookworm.  

Although I also loved riding my bicycle, wandering through fields, and playing baseball as a kid, I read -- a lot.  

One summer in Chicago, as often as I could, I would climb up on the flat roof of a garage in the alley behind the three-flat we lived in at the time, to pour through book after book.  As I remember it, Huckleberry Finn was my favorite.  In the midst of a rather troubling and chaotic childhood, Mark Twain invited me to join Huck, and journey down the river on my rooftop raft to a different -- and seemingly more alluring -- world.

Nowadays, I don't read much fiction, but there is still usually a stack of books close at hand.  Most of them are related to meditation and spirituality.   At this point, pouring through books isn't jumping on a raft to escape the realities of my life.  This ongoing journey through the Teachings is a means to stay in touch with those realities.  

The book at the top of the stack these days is Chögyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.  This is my fourth or fifth time through it in the past forty years. Once again, I find myself marveling at the depth of insight presented -- and the new layers of understanding that seem to emerge with each reading.  (I imagine another decade of daily meditation Practice and a number of meditation intensives between this reading and the last may have helped. LOL)  

I found myself grinning from ear to ear.  Again and again. 
(READ MORE)
In his own inimitable style, Trungpa was gently and persistently merciless in his effort to tell it like it is.  To a western audience prone to grasp onto the teachings of Buddhism as yet another object of ego gratification, he proclaims, unabashedly, "Enlightenment is the ego's ultimate disappointment."  

I imagine that a marketing expert would discourage highlighting this quotation on the book jacket.  

Yet, it really does get to the heart of the matter, the gist of the Practice. 

It seems that many of us can readily "get" Buddha's First Noble Truth, that life entails suffering.  Yet, the Second (there is a cause for suffering) and Third Truths (there is a release from suffering) are a bit trickier to see for ourselves.  Yet, as we spend time in meditation observing the workings of our own mind, we come to a clearer awareness of the many ways that we continually create our world from our own personal cluster of hopes and fears, our own grasping and pushing away from life as it is in each moment.  

In that light, Trungpa  considers the experience of disappointment to be "the best chariot to use on the path of Dharma."  He points out that the experience of disappointment, when fearlessly and deeply explored, is an excellent opportunity to see the workings of our own ego-clinging,  the root cause of our suffering.  Over the years, I've found that to be true.

Disappointed?

What were you expecting?

With a Bow and a Grin,
Lance


Originally Published as "As It Is", July 24, 2015

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