When we taste something, what is the ‘realness’ of it? We can say, ‘It tastes nice’ but this is what we think about it, not what the taste is. We can say, ‘It’s a grape’, but that’s a designation, a perception, isn’t it? What is the actual taste? We say, ‘It’s sweet’, but ‘sweet’ is a judgment, isn’t it? We come to understand that the reality of it is indefinable, and that for most of our life we are operating at the level of interpretations and classifications, of secondary experiences, rather than living the actuality of it. We never even know who we really are, because everything is constantly changing; the reference points are changing so although we feel we’re something, nothing quite fits. So as long as we identify with the world of change and appearance, this is all we shall ever feel ourselves to be, just an appearance that changes and wants to find a certain position.
Ajahn Sucitto, Gnosis and non-dualism
We frequently get caught up in work, and identify with the pressing demands there, which pull us along and create a sense of great importance.
There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man standing alongside the road, shouts, “Where are you going?” and the first man replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!” This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves…We have to learn the art of stopping – stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us.
Thích Nhât Hanh, The Heart of the Buddhas Teaching
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
Mary Oliver, Snow Geese
Stress is caused by the mind’s response to events and suffering by the stories we tell ourselves about our lives:
Not being able to govern events,
I govern myself.
(Ne pouvant régler les événements, je me règle moi-même)
Michel de Montaigne ( 1533 – 1592), Essais, Book II
More thoughts prompted by recent weather events….
Yesterday all exterior talk was of storms and wind and damage. Interior talk was of loss and holding onto to what really has worth.
What if we allowed our hearts to keep opening, even in the face of storms and uncertainty, until our hearts were big enough to fit all experiences inside?
We could learn to stop when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. We could learn to listen to the wind; we could learn to notice that it’s raining or snowing or hailing or calm. We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves, and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.
The sun goes ’round, the moon goes ’round, the tides and seasons go ’round, people are born and die, and when are we finished?
If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die.
Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.
Wayne Muller. Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest