Moving towards the shortest day of the year this week, dark mornings and evenings. Very wild and wet again overnight. Easy to see that life is constantly changing, going up and down, with both darkness and life as just natural parts of the overall whole.
Everything — every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate — is always changing, moment to moment. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that.
Living in a world focused on what is outside us, and not looking within, we are taught from a young age that we need to become something more than we are right now. We are encouraged to always be doing: we must learn; we must buy; we must acquire and achieve. And for absolute certain we must become better than we are right now just sitting here doing nothing. The Buddha taught the opposite. He said that by learning to let the mind be, just as it is right now, all our good qualities can unfold from within.
Humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist.
Yesterday morning driving across country…Hailstones, winds, blue skies. Afternoon ….annoyances that pass though as we work with unexpected requests…
It is essential to understand that an emotion is merely something that arises, remains and then goes away. A storm comes, it stays a while, and then it moves away. At the critical moment remember you are much more than your emotions. This is a simple thing that everyone knows, but you may need to be reminded of it: you are more than your emotions.
Life is going to unfold however it does: pleasant or unpleasant, disappointing or thrilling, expected or unexpected, all of the above! What a relief it would be to know that whatever wave comes along, we can ride it out with grace. What Right Aspiration translates to in terms of daily action is the resolve to behave in a way that stretches the limits of conditioned response. Life is a terrific gym. Every situation is an opportunity to practice.
Sylvia Boorstein, It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness”
Sooner or later, just by living, we’re reduced to what matters; as many of the things we thought were important and irreplaceable are broken or snapped like small branches in a storm. And somehow, as we heal from the scratches and bruises, we stand taller, covered by less. It’s then we begin to feel gratitude, even though it’s hard to be grateful for what is difficult. In the earned nakedness that follows honest experience, we are very close to the thread that connects us to everything.
Mark Nepo, The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be