One must — as in a swimming pool —
dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again —
laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things
I grew up in a post-Depression household. My parents went off to work, so my grandmother did a great deal of the mothering, and I remember her bathing and washing and dressing me and making braids and preparing the kinds of foods that I liked. The only thing that she was not moved to respond to was the coming and going of childhood bouts of “I’m not happy.” I’d say, “But I’m not happy.” And she’d say, “Where is it written that you’re supposed to be happy all the time?” And I actually think it was the beginning of my spiritual practice — that life is difficult. Then 40 years later, I learned that the Buddhists said the same thing, that life is inevitably challenging, and how are we going to do it in a way that’s wise and doesn’t complicate it more than it is just by itself?
photo gaijin biker
More thoughts inspired by the desert, a place where we notice our thirst. As the original story tells us: “Tormented by thirst, they complained to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out into the desert?’ “. We try to quench this thirst in numerous ways. However, the Buddhist tradition tells us that we need to come to a direct and felt understanding of a basic truth of human nature, which is the ultimately unsatisfactory nature of the contingent realities we encounter every day:
Desire full stop is always the desire of the Other.
It’s crucial for all of us to find a practice that will help us have a direct relationship with groundlessness,…a practice that will enable us to touch in with the transitoriness of our thoughts, our emotions, our car, our shoes, the paint job on our house. We can get used to the fleeting quality of life in a natural, gentle, even joyful way, by watching the seasons change, watching day turning to night, watching children grow up, watching sand castles dissolve back into the sea. But if we don’t find some way to make friends with groundlessness and the ever-changing energy of life, then we’ll always be struggling to find stability in a shifting world.
Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully
photo Karl and Ali
When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Stay with the feeling in the body. Don’t advance into proliferating a story. Don’t retreat into denying the sense of hurt.
Not advancing, not retreating,
Not real, not empty.
There is an ocean of bright clouds.
There is an ocean of dark clouds.
Dogen, 1200 – 1253
photo Nicolas A. Tonelli
The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
David Whyte, Vulnerability
photo aditya maurya