False fear

The mind creates a lot of the dramas in our lives, often making them more frightening than they actually are.

Most of us, in some way, struggle with fear — instinctually tensing against it or becoming overwhelmed by it. Shifting our relationship with fear is central to the evolution of consciousness. While fear is a natural, intelligent emotion, when it goes into overdrive, we are in a trance that contracts our body, heart and mind. Our resistance to fear sustains this trance and perpetuates our suffering. As we learn to attend to fear with mindfulness and care, its grip loosens, and we reconnect with our full aliveness, wisdom and love.

Tara Brach

Protect and care

The Shambhala teachings speak of  “placing our fearful mind in the cradle of loving-kindness.” Another image for maitri is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young until they are strong enough to fly away.  People sometimes ask, “Who am I in this image – the mother or the chick. The answer is both….Without loving kindness for ourselves it is difficult if not impossible to genuinely feel it for others.

Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

All make mistakes

I often think of the way the Dakotah Indians responded to a small wrong. When, for example, a young person walked between an elder and the fire – an act of profound impoliteness in their culture – the young person said, simply, “Mistake”. It was an honest acknowledgement of an error of judgment, devoid of any self-recrimination or self-diminution. All present nodded in assent, and life went on.

How healthy such an attitude seems. We all commit mistakes in judgment and we all need forgiveness. If we had the option of making a simple acknowledgement of our mistake and then going on with affairs, how much clearer and gentler life would be. And how healthier would our own hearts be if we looked on the injuries caused us by others as  simply the mistake of human beings who, like us, are struggling to get by in a complex and mysterious world.

Kent Nerburn, Make me an Instrument of Your Peace

See yourself with kindness

9th century Zen master, Tozan Ryokai, attained enlightenment many times. Once when he was crossing a river he saw himself reflected in the water and composed a verse, “Don’t try to figure out who you are. If you figure out who you are, what you understand will be far away from you. You will have just an image of yourself.”

Actually, you are in the river. You may say that is just a shadow or a reflection of yourself, but if you look carefully with warm-hearted feeling, that is you. You may think you are very warm-hearted, but when you try to understand how warm, you cannot actually measure. Yet when you see yourself with a warm feeling in the mirror or the water, that is actually you. And whatever you do, you are there.

Suzuki Roshi, Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen