“You take it all in. You let the pain of the world touch your heart and
you turn it into compassion. It is said that in difficult times,
it is only bodhichitta that heals.”
-- The Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa quoted by Pema Chodron,
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
A grin comes to my face as I remember her voice on the telephone.
"That's backwards isn't it? You meant breathe in the good and send out the bad, right?" she said, not unkindly. Being gracious, she was making a space for me to realize that my aging brain cells had gone dyslexic.
I had been chatting 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 get in touch with my aspiration that we be released from suffering and the roots of suffering. Then I breathe into my heart the difficult and challenging darker emotions that have emerged at the moment. I then breathe out a sense of relief and healing energy.
She paused for awhile (perhaps, to relax and reconnect with a basic openness of mind herself? LOL) Then she simply replied, "Oh?"
She didn't sound convinced.
Hers was not an uncommon response. Raised in a highly individualistic and materialistic society, the basic premise of this ancient Tibetan Buddhist system of mind training seems counter- intuitive. Making the decision to open our hearts to the entire gamut of human emotions, rather than always grasping at the "good" and pushing away the "bad? Seems a bit crazy, right? 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 of these practices has a role in cultivating our Connection to the essentially miraculous nature of life. Each contributes to our deepening ability to be Present -- moment to moment -- to the Sacred Perfection in which we are immersed.
Sitting here, breathing in, breathing out, I'm aware of the dance of my fingers along the surface of this keyboard. 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 these thoughts are merely epiphenoma, just brain secretions of some sort, at this moment they are connectioned to something much grander than that. My heart feels that connection. I have come to trust that feeling. A boundless sense of wonder and joy emerges from the luminous silence that embraces me as I embrace it. Aware of my feet on the floor, the clicking contact of my fingers on the keyboard, the soft humming of the computer, the wind outside the window, the vast, open spaciousness of a clear and boundless open mind, my heart opens. I feel the Presence of the Sacred.
But, I digress -- sort of.