True self, false self

lake-glendalough

We spend a lot of time creating suffering through imagining scenarios that never actually come to pass. These can be with us even as we get up in the morning. One way the different traditions try to help with this is by encouraging us to drop into the natural calm that lies beneath the restless thoughts – our natural wakefulness, our “true face”. Being mindful is something intrinsic to the mind, not something foreign we are trying to bring in. It is like sinking below the ripples on the surface of the lake and finding calm depths beneath.

In this high place, it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface, say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished
there in the cold light, reflecting cold snow

the true shape of your own face

David Whyte, Tilokal Lake

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