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
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
With the restriction on movement and activities these days due to the virus and our caring for each other by creating some distance, we renounce some of the things we would normally like to do. However, this can make space for noticing what we have in our lives, instead of focusing on what we have not.
The ground of renunciation is realizing that we already have exactly what we need,
that what we have already is good.
Every moment of time has enormous energy in it,
and we could connect with that.
Let my doing nothing
When I have nothing to do
Become untroubled in its depth of peace
like the evening in the seashore
when the water is silent.
It was early on in my first meditation class. We had been taught about breathing from our haras [the lower abdomen] and the importance of straight backs and shoulders. I had discovered the knee pain that comes with sitting longer than, say, a half hour. It was overwhelming. Then a tiny little Thich Nhat Hanh teaching, casually expressed, changed my whole experience. It was this:
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.”
Suddenly it was okay to not try to be some samurai warrior meditating through grit teeth. Instead my job was to relax into the posture and to enjoy myself. Behind all of the jetsom and flotsam of everyday life that was circling around in my head like a scrabble game gone rogue was a smile. I still think of this teaching every day.
Geri Larkin, How Can I Love you Better?
Once we believe in ourselves,
we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight,
or any experience that reveals the human spirit.