Either holding on or pushing away

Building on the ideas in yesterday’s post…

The way we know things depends on the mind,  nothing more.

Most of us have moments of deep contentment when we don’t feel a need to alter, express, run from, or invest some special meaning in our experience in any way.  Deep contentment shows us that, at least momentarily, our habit of cherishing and protecting ourselves from what we call “other” has subsided. In moments like these we have stopped objectifying things. We can let things be. And when the mind rests at ease in this way, it accommodates everything, like space.

Elizabeth MattisNamgyelThe Power of an Open Question


Create a space

Consider the “forest pool” metaphor so popular in Buddhism. After inclement weather, the pool is muddy, full of sediment and debris. We cannot clear it by trying to control the contents – that would make the pool worse. We can only wait for all the sediment to settle to the bottom, leaving the pool clear again. So in meditation, by concentrating on the breath or our body or on sounds we can hear in the present moment, we create a space for clarity. We often find that in this spaciousness, an answer to a problem will simply “pop up” to the surface. Sometimes it won’t, but our bodies will thank us for a break from all the worrying.

Sarah Napthali, Stewing

Looking to something else


When we find our life unpleasant or unfulfilling, we try to escape the unpleasantness by various subtle escape mechanisms. In such attempts we are dealing with our lives as if there’s me and then there’s life outside me. As long as we approach our lives in this way we will bend all of our efforts to finding something or somebody else to handle our lives for us. We may look for a lover, a teacher, a religion, a center — something, or somebody, somewhere, to handle our difficulties for us.  As long as we see our lives in this dualistic fashion we fool ourselves and believe that we need not pay any price for a realized life.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen

Hold things lightly and go easy


When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits, the belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
“For” and “against” are forgotten.

No drives, no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs are under control.
You are a free  person.

Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.

Chuang Tzu, 4th Century BC, In the Dark Before Dawn, (trans. Thomas Merton)

Our limiting thoughts are just a creation


Whatever assumptions you have about yourself, no matter how reasonable they might be, they are still a creation in the present. By believing in them, by thinking and holding to them, you’re continually creating yourself as a personality.

Awakeness is not a creation.

It’s the immanent act of attention in the present.

Ajahn Sumedho, The Problem with Personality