There is great practical wisdom in understanding how the mind creates boundaries of concern and interest, and how we can work with these. Of course there are boundaries; there are other beings on earth. But what counts is how those boundaries are maintained, opened and closed.
When we consider otherness — the way beings are different from us — we can feel either insecurity, ‘How does she compare with me?’ or contempt, ‘You’re not as good as me’; or fear and intimidation, ‘You’re better or stronger than me.’ Or, we can feel adoration/attraction — ‘I want to be bonded to you.’
These immediate assumptions are called ‘conceit’: that is, we conceive of people as worse, better or the same as us. The effect is that the mind’s responsiveness gets stuck.
Caught in the conceit of self-view, the heart doesn’t extend its boundaries of appreciation and concern.
We take each other for granted as ‘my wife,’ ‘my boss,’ ‘my teacher’; and that fixing of them freezes our sensitivity. In that state, the heart easily tips over into complaining about the other not being the way they ‘should be’ (or rather the way I want them to be), and so the heart becomes a breeding ground for ill-will.
Ajahn Sucitto, Parami: Ways to Cross Life’s Floods
how would it be to allow for knowing and not knowing: allowing room for the mystery of creating to be able to wonder softly without needing to understand everything to trust in the process to trust in love to trust in the mystery and wonder of the universe that beats softly wildly true all round about us, that is hidden in the mists in the clouds and the rain in the wind blowing and the rain lashing down on your window, reminding you poetically prosaically that this is where you are, on the island, at the edge, in a place of finding and refinding, and remembering to remember the feel of the mist, wind and rain.
Author Unknown, sometimes attributed to John O’Donohue
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.
When you are identified with your mind, you cannot be very intelligent because you become identified with an instrument, you become confined by the instrument and its limitations. So, use the mind, but don’t become it . . . The mind is a beautiful machine. If you can use it, it will serve you; if you cannot use it and it starts using you, it is destructive, it is dangerous. It is bound to take you . . . into some suffering and misery . . . Mind cannot see; it can only go on repeating that which has been fed into it. It is like a computer…Remain the master so that you can use it; otherwise it starts directing you.
Along with the speediness we have the sense that there is not enough time. It’s interesting to observe how often we are living with that perception. It is usually accompanied by a squeeze of anxiety: “I’m not going to be prepared,” and a chain of insecurities. “There’s something around the corner that is going to be too much,” “I’m going to fall short,” “I won’t get something critical done.” There’s this sense that we’re on our way somewhere else and that what’s right here is not the time that matters. We’re trying to get to the point in the future when we’ve finally checked everything off our to-do list and we can rest. As long as this is our habit, we are racing toward the end of our life. We are skimming the surface, and unable to arrive in our life. When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.
Tara Brach, Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence