There is a lot in our current reality that we do not like, or we would prefer to be different:
One point that Ajahn Sumedho would stress regularly, is that loving things is not the same as liking them. Having kindness for ourselves or for other beings is not the same as liking everything. We often come a cropper by trying to make ourselves like everything. This is a completely wrong approach. We’re not trying to like everything, rather we’re recognising that everything belongs. Everything is part of nature: the bitter as well as the sweet, the beautiful as well as the ugly, the cruel as well as the kindly. The heart that recognises that fundamentally everything belongs is what I would describe as being the heart of kindness, the essence of kindness. If we get that really clear within us, and begin to train ourselves to recognise it, we realise that we can cultivate this quality of radical acceptance.
Ajahn Amaro, Radical Acceptance
Like many countries, Ireland yesterday went into a more complete lockdown, greatly restricting physical movement. This allows the space for a heightened interior focus. And at the same time there are signs all round of movement towards deeper compassion and more conscious living.
I can’t give you any advice but this:
to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.
When Joseph Campbell described the journey of transformation, he wrote of coming through the dark cave into a new springtime of life. The important dimension he included is that when people come out of pain into newness of life, they always bring an ‘elixir’ or a gift with them. This gift is meant not just for themselves, but for the transformation of the world. Gifts are meant to be given. Gifts are offered freely. The healthier I am psychologically and spiritually, the freer I will be in offering my gifts to others
Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that I like the teachings of Ajahn Sucitto and the Thai Forest tradition, so I turned to one of his works this week on how to work with the interior feeling states provoked at times like this. The practice of meditation is much more than just calming, but moves into clearly seeing the dynamics behind our changing mind states:
What feels wrong at this time? What shouldn’t be here right now? Whatever it is, accept it. The more you don’t want it, the bigger it gets. How do you want things to be right now? Relinquish it. The more you want it, the farther you push it away. Daily life practice is to keep working against that bhava-vibhava, especially the vibhava [the urge to be nothing] that keeps saying “I’m fed up with this. I’ve had enough of this. I don’t want to be in this situation. I can’t stand this another minute!” Accept it; Sidestep the topic and welcome the energy as it arises. I find this very helpful when the mind panics. Then as I look into that, I see that it all nestles down inside that sense of lack, of being deprived of my space, my time or my peace of mind. The cry for peace of mind can get pretty aggressive when it comes out of the place of hanging on!
Ajahn Sucitto, Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods
One way we need to work with the mind these days is to notice the beauty in the ordinary moments of each day…
I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
R.S. Thomas, The Bright Field