The heat apparently didn't come on last night, leaving the room frigid, with a stiff northwest wind rattling the window alongside my bed as I came awake. I got up, and as is the ritual, went to the bathroom.
Then, I strode back across the cold floor and immediately grabbed the heating pad and an extra blanket -- and crawled back into bed. I didn't plan on falling back to sleep.
When I let those thoughts go and turned my attention to the underlying feelings, I noticed a tightness in my chest and belly.
Then and Now
As I lay there this morning it was different. Within a moment or two, no longer attaching a lot of attention to the thoughts, I was breathing the underlying feelings deeply into my heart with the wish that I could feel those feelings for all of us, and that we all would be free from such suffering and the roots of such suffering. My heartfelt aspiration that all of us be at peace rode the long, slow release of the out breath. I didn't have to choose to Practice at that moment. After about a decade of working with Tonglen, more and more it has become a habitual response.
Then, there was just breath and body, the wind howling outside the window.
Then a few dream bubbles danced into my awareness -- and burst.
A Devoted Fan of Life and Practice
Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?"
Although I moved on from Zen to focus on different forms a number of years ago, I'm still a devoted fan of Dogen's Master Baoche -- and Practice. Although Bob Dylan wrote long ago that "the answer is blowing in the wind", it seems to me at this stage of the journey, that it's more like "the answer is the wind blowing." Practice seems inextricable from Life itself. They are "not two".
In the Lojong Trainings of Tibetan Buddhism one of the Five Strengths that we are encouraged to practice is Familiarization. In a nutshell, this teaching points out that our efforts at diligent practice over time will result in certain practices and mind states becoming familiar terrain. No longer special projects, something to strive for, something to do, they become embedded in your way of life.
I can say that in my experience this appears to be True.
Although, Life being Life, the roller coaster ride of "easy" and "hard"still operates. There still are the ups and downs of richer and poorer, better and worse, and sickness and health. That's the stuff of life. Yet, with Practice the vows made to cultivating kindness and compassion make the ride increasing workable -- and increasingly worthwhile.
I am deeply grateful to have been born in an era that allowed me to "come of age" in the late 60's, to have stumbled into the Collective Kensho of those days with Teachers and Teachings from the world's religions showing up in North America to share their wealth. I'm grateful to have been in it for the long haul, which at age 71 (in two weeks), ain't as long as it used to be. Yet, like Ram Dass proclaimed years ago, this is "the only dance there is." I intend to bop 'til I drop.
That's good enough for me.
So, I'm off to Sit with the #OMG! (#Occupy Meditation Group!) at our Noon MeditationVigil on the Town Commons. That'll keep me on the streets and in trouble.
How about you?
What are you up to?