Today try taking some time to explore the possibility of sitting with yourself as if you were your own best friend.
Dwelling in the awareness of the breath, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go, experiment with the possibility of embracing yourself as you would embrace another person who is dear to you and needs to be held.
We continually move in and out of wholeness and fragmentation, in and out of clarity and confusion, and in and out of a largeness of heart and smallness of mind. When whole and clear and large of heart, we seem to be carried along, part of something larger. When fragmented and confused and small of mind, we seem to be tossed about, lost in ways we don’t quite understand. And so we continually search for tools that will free us to be lifted by life’s currents and not battered by them.
One such tool is a frame of mind, an attitude by which we meet the world: it has to do with whether we are giving attention or getting attention. Giving attention steers us back to center, Giving attention is connective. On the other hand, getting attention is a form of drifting from center. If attention comes your way, well, enjoy, but cultivating and seeking it is paddling away from center. Getting attention is deceptively isolating. It ultimately leads to being seen but not held.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But I try to work one day at a time. If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. That’s enough.
When you see you can do that, you continue, and you give two little joys, and you remove two little sufferings, then three, and then four. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering. That is the secret. Start right now.
Sister Chân Không
Oops! The Moment!
Once you miss it, it is gone forever.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, French Photographer
The mind seems to prefer drama, and a lot of the movies we play in our minds have us at the center of the story, exaggerating the impact of potential future scenarios, as we silently rehearse our lines to ourselves. This is also true in how we relate to the external world.
Are not our generations the crucial ones? For we have changed the world. Are not our heightened times the important ones? Are we not especially significant because our century is? There must be something heroic about our time, something that lifts it above all those other times.
Plague? Funny weather? Dire things are happening…
Why are we watching the news, reading the news, keeping up with the news? Only to enforce our fancy – probably a necessary lie – that these are crucial times, and we are in on them. Newly revealed, and we are in the know: crazy people, bunches of them. New diseases, shifts in power, floods!
But can the news from dynastic Egypt have been any different?
Annie Dillard, For the Time Being
When you are completely absorbed in your breathing there is no self. What is your breathing? That breathing is not you, nor air. What is it? It is not self at all. When there is no self you have absolute freedom. Because you have a silly idea of self you have a lot of problems. So I say your problems are homemade.
Suzuki Roshi, teaching June 1st, 1966