The weather in our lives

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Is it the bowl that rolls around the pearl,

or is it the pearl that rolls around the bowl?

Is it the weather that is cold,

or is it the person who is cold?

Think neither cold nor heat —  at that moment, where is the self to be found?

Dogen (1200 – 1253)  commentary on Dongshan’s (807–869) koan “Cold and Heat”

Spring has started early in Ireland with some days very mild, blossoms already on the trees and daffodils in full bloom. However, everyday is different and today is forecast wet and windy. A weather that is always in motion, hot and cold…

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said “there is no cure for hot and cold”. He meant that our lives have periods of good things and bad, things may go well but we still have self-doubt. Our minds seem to be always in motion –  a succession of thoughts and emotions, good intentions  and petty thoughts, kindness followed by self-seeking.

Pema Chodron used the phrase to encourage us not to  struggle but rather relax into life as it is. In this way, we not only can stop the complaining that goes on in our mind, but also be pleasantly surprised by what  the weather of a day blows into our lives: 

The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face. When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound. Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves. There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever.

Pema Chodron

Living without “shoulds” today

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I have not posted thoughts from Pema Chodron for a while, but was reminded by a close friend as to how inspiring her words can be. She is perhaps the most quoted person on this blog, so here is another idea from her:

Some of us can accept others right where they are a lot more easily than we can accept ourselves. We feel that compassion is reserved for someone else, and it never occurs to us to feel it for ourselves. My experience is,  that by practicing without “shoulds”, we gradually discover our wakefulness and our confidence. Gradually, without any agenda except to be honest and kind, we assume responsibility for being here in this unpredictable world, in this unique moment, in this precious human body.

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

photo SuSanA secretariat

Lean towards, not away

The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you are feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in……Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering – yours, mine, and that of all living beings.

Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

Space is always available to us

Usually when we’re all caught up, we’re so engrossed in our storyline that we lose our perspective. The painful situation at home, in our job, in prison, in war, wherever we might find ourselves – when we’re caught in the difficulty, our perspective usually becomes very narrow, microscopic even. We have the habit of automatically going inward. Taking a moment to look at the sky or taking a few seconds to abide with the fluid energy of life, can give us a bigger perspective – that the universe is vast, that we are a tiny dot in space, that endless, beginningless space is always available to us. Then we might understand that our predicament is just a moment in time, and that we have a choice to strengthen old habitual responses or to be free. Being open and receptive to whatever is happening is always more important than getting worked up and adding further aggression to the planet, adding further pollution to the atmosphere.

Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

Seeing the freshness in each moment

How we relate to the dynamic flow of energy is important. We can learn to relax with it, recognizing it as our basic ground, as a natural part of life; Or the feeling of uncertainty, of nothing to hold on to, can cause us to panic, and instantly a chain reaction begins. Our energy and the energy of the universe are always in flux, but we have little tolerance for this unpredictability, and we have little ability to see ourselves and  the world as an exciting, fluid situation that is always fresh and new. Instead we get stuck in a rut – the rut of “I want” and “I don’t want,” . . . the rut of continually getting hooked by our personal preferences.

Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

How to relate to our daily life

How we stay in the middle between indulging and repressing is by acknowledging whatever arises without judgment, letting the thoughts simply dissolve, and then going back to the openness of this very moment. That’s what we’re actually doing in meditation. Up come all these thoughts, but rather than squelch them or obsess with them, we acknowledge them and let them go. Then we come back to just being here.

After a while, that’s how we relate with hope and fear in our daily lives. Out of nowhere, we stop struggling and relax. We see our story line, drop it, and come back to the freshness of the present moment.

Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty