Having space for whatever comes

The start of a long weekend here in Ireland. Also the clocks go forward this evening, meaning that the evenings are darker earlier and autumn feels more fully present. A natural time to become less “busy”.

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
 
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
 
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952 – Red Brocade
 

Fundamental facts

It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our effort to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness.

Pema Chödrön

You may feel down

Refuse to fall down
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart
toward heaven

only you.
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.


Clarissa Pinkola Estés, A Prayer

In the light we see everything

Mindfulness practice isn’t meant to eliminate thinking but aims rather to help us know what we’re thinking when we’re thinking it, just as we want to know what we’re feeling when we’re feeling it….Meditation is like going into an old attic room and turning on the light. In that light we see everything — the beautiful treasures we’re grateful to have unearthed; the dusty, neglected corners that inspire us to say, “I’d better clean that up”; the unfortunate relics of the past that we thought we had gotten rid of years ago. We acknowledge them all, with an open, spacious, and loving awareness.

It’s never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it’s been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held the old view.

Sharon Salzberg, Mindfulness and Difficult Emotions

Inside yourself

Ireland moving back to much tighter restrictions again for 6 weeks, requiring that our inner resources be strong:

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to was never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

Where is there a place for you to be? No place […] Nothing outside you can give you any place […]

In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.

Flannery O’Connor, 1925 – 1964, American novelist, Wise Blood