We live our lives,
for ever taking leave
Rilke, Duino Elegies
Stars and blossoming fruit trees:
Utter permanence and extreme fragility
give an equal sense of eternity.
photo il conte di luna
We might think of the mind as being like clear, open space. All kinds of things arise there, but the space is not affected….In meditation and in our lives, it is not so important what particular experience arises. What’s important is how we relate to it. By learning to relate well with whatever arises, we open to the full range of human experience, to what the Taoists call “the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows”.
Joseph Goldstein, A Heart Full of Peace
I have had some visitors staying these past days. The weather so far this year has been very unusual for this area, with clouds and rain dominating in the last few week. This certainly can make touring a little more difficult, but no matter what the weather, once we fix on one desired result, inevitably the alternative seems a disappointment. A useful practice for the larger things in life. When we notice little habits like this we can let go and save ourselves stressing over things we cannot control.
I once led a retreat during a monsoon-like rainstorm: For a few days I wanted to apologize to everyone for the weather until a …voice of deeper wisdom arose “Weather is weather. This is what happens”. We’ve all had weather moments – times when we’ve felt responsible for everyone’s good or well-being. It’s our job, we think, to fix the temperature and humidity, or the people around us (if only we could get our partner to quit smoking, consult a map, stick to a diet). We even think we’re capable of totally controlling our own emotions – “I shouldn’t feel envious, or resentful or spiteful! That’s awful! I’m going to stop”. You might as well say “I’m never going to catch a cold again!”
Though we can affect our physical and emotional experiences, we can’t ultimately determine them; we can’t decree what emotions will arise in us. But we can learn in meditation to change our responses to them. That way we are spared a trip down a path of suffering we’ve traveled many times before. Recognizing what we can’t control (the feelings that arise within us; other people; the weather) helps us to have healthier boundaries at work and at home – no more trying to reform everyone all the time.
Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness