"There is a foundation for our lives, a place in which our life rests.
That place is nothing but the present moment, as we see, hear,
experience what is. If we do not return to that place, we live our
lives out of our heads. We blame others; we complain; we feel sorry for
ourselves. All of these symptoms show that we're stuck in our
thoughts. We're out of touch with the open space that is always right
Charlotte Joko Beck,
In the past few weeks, I've experienced some stormy seas. Although "life as usual" for me is always rather unusual as I continue to explore the practice of what Uchiyama Roshi termed a "Life of Vow", this has been a particularly unsettled and, at times unsettling, passage through time and space. As I've kept moving, caring for my partner, kids and grandkids (and their pets) strewn around Massachusetts, most of my usual routines, other than Sitting, have dissolved. Even MMM itself, which, in part, has been my attempt to create a regular "shelter from the storm"--for myself and others--hasn't been immune from storminess.
Yet, as I sit here looking out the window at the dance of raindrops shimmering along the glistening asphalt of Bank Row here in Greenfield, the reality
of storminess--rather than my thoughts about it-- just emerged unfettered. In the midst of a torrential downpour, it is actually quite beautiful out there! Even though I am committed to walk across that rainswept street in a few moments and probably get a bit soggy as I fulfill a commitment to the #OMG! (#Occupy Meditation Group!) Peace Presence*, I can honestly say that my spirits aren't dampened. I just felt the tightness in my shoulders release as my lungs began to fill with air. The river of traffic along Main Street sings, the multi-colored grayness of the sky glows in harmony.
The promise of Mindfulness Practice delivers once again.
The moment I turned my gaze to what was happening outside the world of my own thoughts and feelings to realize the actual
storminess that is existing in the here and now, a shift of consciousness occurred spontaneously. As soon as my awareness was released from the storylines about shelters and storminess and wet and dry and good and bad and gain and loss, the expansiveness and fullness of Life As It Is returned--instantaneously
! I didn't choose to change the channel (although sometimes that works, too). I merely raised my eyes to look outside.
I love it when that happens.
Of course, there are still shelters and storminess and wet and dry and
good and bad and gain and loss woven into the fabric of our lives. The relative plane of existence is absolutely there. It is not separate from the Essential Oneness. There are hard times and there are easy times; times to cruise, times to roll up our sleeves. Life is just like that.
Yet, as the Practice matures, we come to see for ourselves that it is precisely our attempts to control the world to meet our own models of how it should be, and our own resistances to what is actually occurring, that ultimately separate us from one another, from the ever present Oneness of Life. The flow of the Universe is incessant
and any attempt to create a lasting shelter from
the storm is
doomed to disappointment. Yet, when we turn to face Life directly, the shelter emerges from within
the storm itself. It rests securely in the embrace of the present moment.
It is sheer grace.
* Since the fall of 2011, a few of us meditate for a half hour at noon on the Greenfield Town Commons, Monday through Saturday. Begun as a form of "direct inaction" in the midst of the #Occupy Wall Street! Movement, #OMG! has continued through rain and shine, snow and summer heat.