Underneath

There is a Tibetan saying: ‘When things are difficult, then let yourself be happy.’ Otherwise, if happiness is relying on others or the environment or your surroundings, it’s not possible. Like an ocean, the waves always go like that but underneath, it always remains calm. So we have that ability as well. On an intellectual level, we may see things as desperate, difficult. But underneath, at the emotional level, you can keep calm.

The Dalai Lama

Stilling the continual movement

More insightful teaching on the basic human dynamics of “continual movement” beneath a lot of the suffering in the mind,  from my favourite source. These dynamics can become more apparent as exterior stimuli are reduced due to the Covid-19 lockdown and we can experience a greater interior restlessness.

We live with many options. If we get bored with looking at a painting, we read something; when that becomes boring, we go for a walk, perhaps visit a friend and go out for dinner together, then watch a movie. The pattern is that each new arising, or “birth” if you like, is experienced as unfulfilling. In this process of ongoing need, we keep moving from this to that without ever getting to the root of the process. Another aspect of this need is the need to fix things, or to fix ourselves — to make conflict or pain go away. By this I mean an instinctive response rather than a measured approach of understanding what is possible to fix and what dukkha (suffering)  has to be accommodated right now.

Then there’s the need to know, to have it all figured out. That gets us moving too. This continued movement is an unenlightened being’s response to dukkha. That movement is what is meant by … “the wandering on” – within this life, we can see all these “births,” — the same habit taking different forms. And each new birth is unsatisfactory too, because sooner or later we meet with another obstacle, another disappointment, another option in the ongoing merry-go-round. High-option cultures just give you a few more spins on the wheel.

Ajahn Sucitto, Turning the Wheel of Truth

A large meadow

 

The great Suzuki Roshi’s classic image on how meditation develops space in our lives and allows us work with whatever challenging thoughts arise: 

The way to control your sheep or cow is

to give him a large, spacious meadow .

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

When feeling overwhelmed

Meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is. It teaches the heart to be more accommodating, not by beating it into submission, but by making it clear that accommodation is a gratifying choice.

Sylvia Boorstein, Don’t Just do something, Sit There

He said not “Thou shalt not be troubled, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be distressed,” but he said, “Thou shalt not be overcome.”

Julian of Norwich

All conditioned phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow,
Like dew or a flash of lightning; This is how you should observe and reflect.

The Diamond Sutra