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." There, 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.
Taken to heart, this can change everything.
It Just Takes Practice
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, take a deep breath, relax, look around us, and see that we are the entire Universe!
Perfect timing Lance. I needed to reinforce that in my life today. Have written Pema's 3 steps in my journal for repetition. Bless you.
Synchronicity, Lance! The day before yesterday I pulled The Wisdom of No Escape from my shelf, put a bookmark in chapter 8 and placed it on my bedside table. I have been experiencing 3:00-5:00 a.m. insomnia off and on for a number of years now and use the time to read Buddhist teachings. This book and The Magnanimous Heart by Narayan Helen Liebenson are my current companions while navigating the wee (often haunted) hours. I will add my copy of Living Beautifully...to the pile. Thanks for the reminder on this. (())
I'm so glad that there continues to be such Synchronicity as we each wend our way forward on our Heart Journey. Please continue to keep me in the Loop.
Again, Synchronicity among Kindred Spirits! (Although, there are a few longtime Anonymous's in the Circle here, and I don't have enough clues to know for certain which Anonmyous you are. Seems like a number of us are experiencing similiar themes along the Way of Love. LOL)
I, too, have experienced that wee hours "insomnia" on and off for years. Like you, I now can choose to accept it as a constructive time for study and practice. In fact, in many contemplative traditions the predawn hours are seen as "prime time" for Spiritual Practice.
Yes. Pema's "Living Beautifully..." was my major tome for a swath of time. I haven't read The Magnanimous Heart, yet, but when I was in residence at Insight Meditation Society I sat with her and her mentor Larry Rosenberg a number of times. It's been wonderful to see her blossom from the role of an Assistant Teacher to her service today.
I'll put her book on my list.
Thanks for chiming in! If you wanna go a step less anonymous, shoot me an email at email@example.com. I love comparing notes with kindred spirits.
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