that holding on to anything blocks wisdom.
Any conclusion that we draw must be let go."
I'm sitting here at the laptop poised to sprinkle some thoughts across the screen in an effort to capture the essence of the thought that thoughts can't really capture the Essence.
I have, after all, been committed to publishing a weekly post here in cyberspace for the past seven and half years. Although for quite some time now I've been going back through a couple of hundred previously written posts and polishing them up, this weekly commitment is part of what Uchiyama Roshi called a "life of vow."
It seems to me that a set of commitments and the actions produced is all that I really have to bring to the plate. The rest is in the hands of the Cosmic Pitcher. All I can really do is commit to showing up, stepping up to the plate, and taking my best swing if it appears to be in the strike zone -- or let it go by if it ain't. (Egads, I'm thinking in baseball metaphors, again. It must be spring.)
And here's the Pitch.....
No Such Thing as a True Story
I had occasion to hang out with one of these old friends the other day.
IMHO, The Wisdom of No Escape (and the Path of Loving Kindness) is a must read. Between its covers, Pema Chodron "tells it like It Is." This venerable American teacher of Tibetan Buddhism presents us with a useful and practical way to carefully, gently and persistently alter the way we experience our lives. Rather than scurry ahead in the tunnel vision of our own conditioning, we are invited to open up, come to our senses, and walk ahead into the vast and mysterious beauty of Life as it is.
How cool is that?
Even if I can't convince you to read the entire book, go to the library and take a peek at Chapter 8 entitled "No Such Thing As a True Story." Pema hits it out of the park. In this chapter, she describes the way that we co-create our own world, moment to moment, largely as a result of the "story lines" that frame our experience.
Yet, with Mindfulness Practice, we can come to see them clearly. Instead of allowing these thoughts to continuously write the screenplay of our individual movie, we can learn to expand our focus. Rather than remain "lost in our thoughts," we can shift our awareness from our heads to the boundless space of our own hearts. There, the thoughts are seen as just thoughts, not as the Truth. We see that, like all conditioned existence, they are impermanent. They come and go of their own accord. We find ourselves dancing with the wondrous array of energies at play in the vast spaciousness of each moment.
Taken to heart, this can change everything.
It Just Takes Practice
Of course, for most of us, the "habit" of focusing most of our awareness on the content of our thoughts is deeply ingrained. We pride ourselves in knowing who we are and what we are doing. We've learned to stay in our head to avoid what Pema Chodron calls the fundamental ambiguity of being human. We've learned to "harden our hearts," to shield ourselves from the inevitable feelings of pain and fear that are part of the human condition.
Our "thoughts about the matter," our beliefs and opinions, then become the primary foundation of our identity. The "I" that we experience is, in large part, the sum total of the conclusions we have drawn about the nature of reality and how we fit into it. Even if that "I" is generally stressed and unhappy, we cling to it. It is familiar terrain. It can be scary as hell to throw it all up for grabs and realize we don't know really know who we are or what is actually going on.
Yet that is precisely the Gateway to the Real Deal.
In fact, at times, we can close the book, look up, and see that we are the entire Universe!