Living without contention, we are well-rooted in the earth. Zen poets say we become a mature bamboo – steady at the base, flexible in strong winds, and responsive to the movement of life. The strength of non-contentiousness brings patience and trust. The poet Rilke reminds us,
“Being fully alive means not numbering or counting,
but ripening like a tree which doesn’t force its sap and stands confidently in the storms of winter
not afraid that summer might not come.
It does come. It always comes.”
Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart
O tell us, poet, what you do?
— I praise.
But those, dark, deadly, devastating ways,
how do you bear them, suffer them?
— I praise.
But the nameless, the anonymous. How, Poet, can you still invoke it?
– I praise.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Praise
Sometimes meditation practice can be used just to dampen down anxiety or to run away from facing difficult aspects in our lives or our history. As a strategy this is doomed to failure, sooner or later. The only way to full wholeness is to allow all things to be held in awareness, including the parts of ourselves or our life histories that frighten us, the things that disturb our “calm”. As the previous quote from Pema Chodron reminds us, all that comes into our life – including the experiences of our childhood and subsequent difficult moments – remain in us until they have taught us something and we have integrated the teaching. So our most important practice is allowing and acknowledging all the parts of our life, thus increasing our capacity to be free in their presence.
If, then, we want to be let in on the secrets of life, we must be mindful of two things : first, there is the great melody, in which things and scents, feelings and past events, dawns and dreams, all contribute their part; and second there are the individual voices which augment and complete this full chorus. And to lay the foundation for a work of art — that is, an image a life lived more deeply – of our more than daily experience — we have to put both voices, – the voice of this moment and the voice of the group of people living within that moment – into a proper relationship and reconcile them.
Rilke, Notes on the Melody of Things