Holding things and oneself lightly

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The practice of mindfulness has as its overall goal the reduction of suffering and an increase in fullness in the totality of our lives. But in order for us to see the actual benefits now, whether here in Ireland or wherever you are reading this,  we need to practice it with the big and small moments of each day. This profound text indicates one way we do this. Mindfulness has a quality of not wobbling in the face of the different winds that blow us, the difficulties and changes which we face in our day-to-day living. Persistent practice allows us to hold ourselves more lightly, and not be as strongly fused with the story we maintain about how our lives should be or how certain moments in the day should go. One way of saying this is that we are not as attached, or not clinging, to outcomes, or to some fixed aspects of our identity. In this way changes and unexpected turnings do not bring the same dismay as once they did:

How do we arrive at non-agitation through non-clinging?

When the instructed person does not regard form with these words: “This is mine, this I am, this is my self.”

The form of his changes and alters,

but with the change and alteration of form,

sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure and despair do not arise.

The Buddha, S 22.8
photo dmitry rozhkov

The ongoing grasping mind

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Let’s face it: we’re nearly always looking for something new. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we’ve got — how well we each manage our store of talents or prospects — we are somehow convinced that we haven’t yet got “it,” not enough to be completely satisfied or secure. We might think we need something as harmless as a cookie, a game, or a gadget — or another career, lover, or child. We might call what we want higher purpose, wisdom, passion, or simply a change of scenery. Until we are at peace with ourselves, the quest continues. Until we know that there is nowhere else to go, and nothing more to get, we are trapped in delusion. We cannot resolve delusion with more delusion, but we try, and in the search we drive ourselves further away from reality and into raving madness.

What does it take to liberate ourselves from the chase? What if we could release the grasping mind that is always clawing after some precious new thing, even if it’s only a new fantasy? That would be excruciating, or so we fear. It’s the fear of letting go that afflicts us, but letting go is pain free.

Karen Maezen Miller

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An active state

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People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state – it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Abraham Heschel