within yourself that you have built against it.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times
In the past two weeks, we have seen days of clouds, days of sunshine. We've experienced high winds, snow, ice, and rain, endured frigid nights of single digits and enjoyed balmy days with springlike temperatures.
Mother Nature is doing her part to remind us of the nature of Life itself. With or without the specter of global warming, everything is in constant flux. What the Buddhists call anicca is one aspect of Reality as it is. Everything is impermanent.
I notice that as I sit at the keyboard to muse about the Practice, there is a particular quality of consciousness that emerges again this morning.
Although there are certainly moments of befuddlement and confusion, sometimes swaths of time in which I stammer and stumble ahead haltingly, only to hit the backspace key and take a few steps, it seems that I generally return to being quite aware of a vast and clear spaciousness beyond any of the thoughts find their way into my fingers. In this morning's meditation, and now, sitting here at the keyboard, when I pause and simply breath, I am aware of Awareness itself. I like it when that happens.
There is a problem with it, though.
In reading over some of my past posts this past week, I found myself wondering if I was too quick to present the high side of a Life of Practice without acknowledging how very difficult and challenging it can be to truly open one's heart to the reality of the human condition as it is actually lived in our day to day lives. It seems to me that I can spend a bit too much airtime raving about the fact that Life is Miraculous and Beautiful, not enough time acknowledging that Life Sucks.
That Life Sucks is, after all, the first Noble Truth of Buddhism. Suffering, according to the Buddha, is a basic characteristic of human existence. It is woven into the fabric of Life itself. I believe that Jesus was also getting at this when he proclaimed "Blessed be those who mourn."
So, although I am quite grateful for the many moments of magic that grace each day, and quite clear that the Practice continuously supports me to experience that, I also am quite clear that to apprehend the Real Deal, I've had to open my heart and mind to the incontrovertible reality that each of us will die. I've had to accept that each of us will be hurt, both emotionally and physically, along the way. I've had to see clearly that even in good health and good spirits, we all are likely to experience a myriad of disappointments and dis-satisfactions amidst the mundane realities of our day to day life.
There will be springlike days. There will be days with sub-zero wind chills. Sometimes it's one step forward. Sometimes one step back.
Oops. I was about to start raving about the Miraculous and the Beautiful again.