Very mixed weather in Ireland this week, snow on Wednesday followed by warm sunshine on Friday. Our experience too can be mixed, with encouraging moments at times and moments when discouragement reigns
But patiently, underneath it all, something emerges and we learn to let go…
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
A story about Zen master Suzuki Roshi. Once his students had been sitting and they were 3 or 4 hours into a very hard sitting period. The person who told the story said that every bone in his body was hurting. Not only that, his thoughts were totally obsessed with either, “I can’t do this, I’m worthless. There’s something wrong with me.” or “This whole thing is ridiculous. Why did I ever come here? These people are crazy. This place is like boot camp.” Probably everyone else in the room was going through something similar.
Suzuki Roshi came in to give the lecture and sat down. He started to talk very, very slowly and said, “The difficulty that you are experiencing now…” (And that man was thinking….“will go away”)… and Suzuki said, “will be with you for the rest of your life.”
That’s a sort of Buddhist humor, but it is also the essence of maitri (friendliness towards ourselves). It seems to me that we come to a body of teachings or any spiritual path, or to meditation, in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. And the truth is actually that the meditation practice isn’t about that. Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.
But this issue of growing up, it’s not all that easy because it requires a lot of courage… to relate directly with your experience. By this I mean whatever is occurring in you, you use it. You seize the moment. Moment after moment? You seize those moments and instead of letting life shut you down and make you more afraid, you use those very same moments of time to soften and to open and to become more kind.
photo infrogmation of New Orleans
It is a bewildering thing in human life,
that the thing that causes the greatest fear
is the source of the greatest wisdom.
photo r brunsch
Having a spiritual life doesn’t mean striving to stop the rain from falling or keeping our hearts from breaking. It means letting go of our resistance and wilful separation. It means taking our place in the greater whole of life. This surrender tends to happen in moments of loss but also sometimes in moments of great love or moments when we have been spared. In those moments it’s natural to say or inwardly feel “Thy will be done,” I surrender, opening to the rain and the sun and all that will come, knowing that we and life is more than we think we are.
Tracy Cochran, The Golden Ticket
photo : gorkaazk
Our instinct is to run away from the difficult moments in our life,
when in fact they may be sent to teach us and help us grow:
Medicine and illness heal one another
The whole world is medicine
Yunmen, 862 – 949
photo CGP grey
A day when I am aware of the gift of life.
This poem was written by Jane Kenyon shortly before she died of leukemia at age 47, aware that things would soon change for her.
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
Jane Kenyon, Otherwise
photo harald hoyer