Security and insecurity

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity… If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid… To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.

 

Alan Watts

A steady center

In these days it can be just small things, like the song of a bird….

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose from
all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path – but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be
lost, learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.

William Stafford, Cutting Loose

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

Sunday Quote: The depths within

Like many countries, Ireland yesterday went into a more complete lockdown, greatly restricting physical movement. This allows the space for a heightened interior focus. And at the same time there are signs all round of movement towards deeper compassion and more conscious living.

I can’t give you any advice but this:

to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.

Rilke

Notice the treasure before your eyes

One way we need to work with the mind these days is to notice the beauty in the ordinary moments of each day…

I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S. Thomas, The Bright Field