Tolerance for uncertainty

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There is a deep-seated tendency, it’s almost a compulsion, to distract ourselves, even when we’re not consciously feeling uncomfortable. There’s a background hum of edginess, boredom, restlessness. As I’ve said, during my time in retreat where there were almost no distractions, even there I experienced this deep uneasiness.…..We feel this uneasiness because we’re always trying to get ground under our feet and it never quite works. We’re always looking for a permanent reference point, and it doesn’t exist. Everything is impermanent. Everything is always changing…Nothing is pin-down-able the way we’d like it to be. This is not actually bad news, but we all seem to be programmed for denial. We have absolutely no tolerance for uncertainty
Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap
photo david brown

Nothing to lean on

The moment that Teijitsu, 18th century abbess of Hakujuan,  near Eiheiji, Japan, learned to let go.

She saw that all phenomena arose, abided, and fell away. She saw that even knowing this  arose, abided, and fell away. Then she knew there was nothing more than this, no ground, nothing to lean on, stronger than the cane she held.  Nothing to lean upon at all, and no one leaning…  And she opened the clenched fist in her mind and let go, and fell, into the midst of everything.

Sallie Tisdale, The Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 years of Buddhist Wisdom 

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall patiently,  to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.

Rilke, Book of Hours, II, 16


Where to place our attention

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De Toqueville’s insight into the human mind, although made during his visit to the USA in 1831, probably applies even more so today,  as we are continually made aware of the variety of things which we “need” and experiences we cannot live without:

I  have seen the freest and most educated men in the happiest circumstances the world can afford;

yet it seemed to me that a cloud hung on their brow and they appeared serious and almost sad even when they were enjoying themselves…

because they never stop thinking of the things they have not got.

[songent sans cesse aux biens qu’ils n’ont pas]

Alexis de Toqueville, French Political thinker,  De la Democratie en Amerique, (1835) Chapitre XIII

photo psyberartist

Seeing the different people

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There are many different ideas of “you” in your mind, each with its own agenda. Each of these “you’s” is a member of the committee of the mind. This is why the mind is less like a single mind and more like an unruly throng of people: lots of different voices, with lots of different opinions about what you should do. Some members of the committee are open and honest about the assumptions underlying their central desires. Others are more obscure and devious. This is because each committee member is like a politician, with its own supporters and strategies for satisfying their desires. One of the purposes of meditation is to bring these dealings out into the open, so that you can bring more order to the committee — so that your desires for happiness work less at cross purposes, and more in harmony as you realize that they don’t always have to be in conflict.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Training the mind

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Nothing in the whole universe is comparable to the mind or can take its place. Everything is mind-made. Yet we all take our minds for granted, which is another absurdity. No one takes the body for granted. When the body gets sick, we quickly run to the doctor. When the body gets hungry, we quickly feed it. When the body gets tired, we quickly rest it. But what about the mind? Only the meditator looks after the mind. Looking after the mind is essential if life is to grow in depth and vision. Otherwise life stays two-dimensional. Most lives are lived in the realities of yesterday and tomorrow, good and bad, “I like it” and “I don’t like it,” “I’ll have it” and “I won’t have it,” “this is mine and this is yours.” Only when the mind is trained can we see other dimensions.

Ayya Khema, Being Nothing,  Going Nowhere

photo honza groh