Sunday Quote:The best gift

 

Today the Christian Liturgy starts to chant the O Antiphons –   aspirations used since the 5th Century in the final days before Christmas and which resonate with deep needs in our humanity,

The first of them wishes that we may grow in wisdom at this time of year around the Winter Solstice, when the days are shorter and nature quietens down, and we can see more clearly the bare elements in our lives. What maters most? In many old traditions, having a wise perspective on what was important in life was greatly treasured. In some ways it is the best gift one could get in these days, leading to a resting of the mind and contentment.

To the mind that is still,

the whole universe surrenders.

Lao Tzu

Always wanting

 

As already said earlier in Advent, this time of year is good for noticing the restlessness of the human heart and the different ways it seeks to satisfy itself. Like other energies, desire passes through the mind-body, frequently in short bursts and is not permanent. Desire is to be understood and we come to see that we can let go of it.

But most hearts say, I want, I want,
I want, I want. My heart
is more duplicitous,
though no twin as I once thought.
It says, I want, I don’t want, I
want, and then a pause.
It forces me to listen,

and at night it is the infra-red
third eye that remains open
while the other two are sleeping
but refuses to say what it has seen.

It is a constant pestering
in my ears, a caught moth, limping drum,
a child’s fist beating
itself against the bedsprings:
I want, I don’t want.
How can one live with such a heart?

Long ago I gave up singing
to it, it will never be satisfied or lulled.
One night I will say to it:
Heart, be still,
and it will.

Margaret Atwood, The Woman Who Could Not Live With Her Faulty Heart

 

Fully here

The present moment is never unbearable if you live in it fully.

What is unbearable is to have your body here at 10 A.M. and your mind at 6 P.M.

your body in Bombay and your mind in San Francisco.

Anthony de Mello, sj, The Heart of the Enlightened

How to work with fears

Are we intimate with the whole physical movement of fear? Or do we just label it “fear”, say, “I don’t want to feel this way,” and then try everything possible to get away from it, not to experience it? When fear and anxiety actually come into awareness, there is a precious opportunity to experience the whole thing, to go through it completely from beginning to end without any need for escape.

At the first sign of scary, disagreeable physical thoughts and feelings, why not stop and attend? It’s not impossible! “What is going on right now?” Awareness happens for everyone when there is the interest and readiness to be in touch directly, immediately, without description or explanation or diagnosis. When there is intimate touch with what is happening right here, this moment, without any separation…

Separation is this thinking: “I can’t bear it. It’s too much for me. Too dangerous.” Once this physical-mental resistance is directly discovered, it does not continue. Awareness takes its place. It’s like an exchange of energy…

The significant thing is not what it is that is touched and discovered but that there is no separation in being. Then whatever is touched changes. Whatever is there is not the same anymore when it is unconditionally allowed to be there in the fullness of awareness…

Toni Parker, The Light of Discovery

Not identifying with where we are today

We try to maintain a relaxed observing,  and not identify with our thoughts. The heart of mindfulness practice:

To think ‘I am screwed up’, is a value judgement, isn’t it? ‘Screwed up’ makes the ‘I am’. It is identifying with a certain kind of condition, a feeling about oneself personally. If we leave off the ‘screwed up’ bit, we get more to the reality of the moment ― ‘Right now I am . . .’ and there is this sense of being here and now. This is a recognition of conscious experience as an entity. There is an entity but it is not personal any more; it is not ‘I am Ajahn Sumedho’ or ‘I am’ anything at all; it is just this sense of ‘I am’, of presence. Being a conscious entity is ― ‘like this’. Reflect on that and sustain it for a while, that sense of ‘I am’, without adding any personal conditions to it.

In this sense of ‘I am’, the body is ‘like this’. There is consciousness, there is the breath (one can be aware of just the breathing of the body, in-breathing and out-breathing.), there is the ‘sound of silence’, the background. And in this intuitive moment, one observes without adding any kind of personal quality.

Ajahn Sumedho, Try to have a Permanent Emotion.

Versions of ourselves

Most of us are not open most of the time, we pretend that we are open, but mostly you’re running your own dramatic event of which you are the hero or the heroine. Usually that’s what we are doing most of the time.

The youth stops being so important, you’re too tired to maintain the hero that you think you are or the failure that you think you are, whatever the version of yourself that you bought into is — “I’m this failure, I’m not enough, or I’m this” … I’m more than anybody understands.

Those versions of yourself are not very useful.

Leonard Cohen, on what he learnt in his time in a Zen Monastery