Tuesday, May 14, 2019

acceptance and change

Within the Buddhist perspective, there can be a confusion both internally and externally around the concepts of 'accepting the world' and the healthy desire for change.  This came up a lot when working  from a mindfulness perspective with clients struggling with substance abuse.  How can I accept my cravings and change my relationship with myself and with drugs at the same time?  (It can be said we are all addicted, particularly to our habitual, repetitive, often hovering just below the surface of awareness thought patterns or areas of attachment and identification.)

What does 'accepting' look like in terms of wanting to 'change?'  What does wanting to 'change' look like in terms of 'accepting' my thoughts, emotions, sensations.

Some ideas came to mind this morning.  My thought process was along these lines.  'Accepting' can be seen as 'being with' and 'changing' can be seen as 'acting upon.'  Then I thought further along these lines, seeing how 'accepting' and 'being with' are similar to 'listening' and 'changing' and 'acting up' are similar to 'speaking.'

I know for myself that I am much more prone to speaking than to listening.  I can see around me that people who are truly skilled at listening seem fewer in number than those skilled in speaking.

And the quesion arises in my mind, "How do I really know what I want to say unless I have truly listened?"

Saturday, May 11, 2019

everything and more

nothing I crave is in the present moment
everything I seek is in the present moment

Sunday, May 5, 2019

the dervish who was everything

     A novice policeman was patrolling one evening in a neighbourhood of old Konya that had been rife with burglaries. At he walked along, he came across a homeless looking man, obviously a beggar dressed in rags, who was sitting back against a dilapidated wall sound asleep. Immediately suspicious, he prodded the man awake with his night stick, demanding of the man, “Are you the thief who has been pestering these neighbours!?” Aroused but still sleepy, the man simply replied that, yes, he was a thief. 
     Hoisting the man up by his coat, the policeman poked him to the nearby constabulary and set him in a cell. About this time, the sergeant came along, looked at the man in the cell and then at the policeman, standing proudly in front of his first arrest. To the policeman's dismay, the sergeant began chiding him vigorously, "You north end of a horse pointing south. You pile of solid matter discharged from the alimentary canal of a tiny rodent with big ears. You noggin made up entirely of hard, largely calcarious connective tissue." (The sergeant had literary tendencies.)
     "Effendi! How did I offend thee?" (The policeman was more inclined toward the poetic.)
     "Don't you know who this man is?”
     "No, Effendi.”
     "Why he's a dervish, a holy man. Simple, profound, and penetrating in his wisdom, he is a paragon of the fullness of what it means to be a human being.”
     The policeman then described the conversation he had had with the prisoner, finishing with, “But he confessed. He admitted to being a thief.”
     The sergeant became very serious and explained. “It is part of his insight and wisdom to see that within him, within us all, are the complete array of every human tendency. He sees that we all carry within us the potentials of kindness and cruelty, honesty and deception, goodness and evil, and everything in between. Therefore he, and all of us, also carry within us the possibility of being a thief, a teacher, a lawyer, a soccer player, a scoundrel, a murderer. We are all in this together. And so, he chooses to live with peace and love. Turn him free immediately. And be sure to give him some gummy bears!” 
     Opening the door to the cell, the policeman paused for a moment, wondering, “Gummy bears?” But before he could ask anything the sergeant was already walking out the door.

Quotes from past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

My humanity is bound in yours, wecan only be human together.
Desmond Tutu – 1984

I wish that a conscious sense of peace and solidarity would develop in all peoples.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum – 1992

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
The 14th Dalai Lama – 1989

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King Jr. - 1964

Do one good thing everyday, that someone is afraid to do.
Leymah Gbowee - 2011

One person of integrity can make a difference.
Elie Wiesel – 1986

This is what my soul is telling me: Be peaceful and love everyone.
Malala Yousafzai - 2014

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

floating and footless

These past few weeks have been really challenging.  I've had to be very honest with people I care deeply about, people in my family and other important people as well.  And in being very honest, I know I have hurt these people even though I did what I feel is right.  And I know that these people are already hurting, some of them hurting a lot.  I don't like hurting people.  My heart is so breaking right now.

I'm very unsure right now about what is right and what is wrong; about where objective and subjective realities meet; about how to come back again and again to the heart and what that really means; about compassion; about how to deal with people when everything is an illusion and yet very real at the same time.  I feel very much like I'm floating and can't find my feet.

And I'm very angry.  Angry that there is so much suffering in the world, suffering on physical, emotional, and mental levels.  Some people have to endure so much in their lives.  I wish that I could just reach out and touch them and make it all go away.  But I can't.  I know that suffering is a part of life, I get it, but right now anger is what I feel. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept the 'realities' of life.  And so I have to be very understanding and at the same time very honest with myself.  Gently honest, but directly honest, just like I have tried to be in the instances alluded to above.

Life is hard.  Life is awesome, beautiful, vibrant.  People continually blow my mind with all the beauty that they bring.  I see these things every day.  Even the understanding that life is hard is part of that awesome beauty, mind-blowing in how intricate and alive life is, how poignant a broken heart is, what that broken heart signifies in terms of feeling caring and interconnected with life and everyone in it.  And how life being hard or easy is a contant tidal movement, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  And how that is also part of the beautiful and amazing flow of consciousness, of some unwritten but deeply inscribed directive or procedure in the universe that underlies all of our experiences in the world.  And how interpretations of things in terms of good, bad, or indifferent are not more than personal overlays upon a fundamental innocence of life as it is.

But still, right now life is hard.  Right now I am troubled.  These are my current inner states and I have no doubt that in 15 minutes, one day, next week, a year from now, my inner state will be to various degrees different, will fluctuate due to continual conscious and subconscious engagement with internal and external factors, all part of the interconnectedness of life.

Take good care of yourself.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

on holding holding on

Mother Teresa said something along the lines of how much more difficult it is to attend to the suffering of the affluent than it is to that of the poor. It has always struck me as such a powerful statement. Perhaps the difficulty lies in that the poor have, in general, had to learn to ‘let go’ to a much greater extent than those with wealth: let go of expectations, of having ‘things,’ and particularly of being privileged, whereas the affluent, in general have not developed this awareness or this skill to the same extent or in the same way. (I know I’m talking in very broad terms here. And I realize that those who are poor have their own ways of holding on.) Perhaps to some degree it is because is so very hard to let go when the hand has already been holding onto something and become so familiar with holding on so tightly that it has become second nature, an automatic and unconscious attachment and subsequently an automatic and unconscious behaviour and identification, and therefore more powerful than any power directly associated with ‘having.’ That when the hand has always been relatively empty there can become a way of life that understands the futility of holding on.

I don't know. I'm kind of thinking out loud. But whatever the case, rich or poor… Holding on. Attachment. Identification. These three activities unconsciously cycling and cycling again, gaining a denser and denser presence and momentum in our beingness. Rich or poor, this dynamic is so prevalent and multiformed. And so human. So worthy of being attended to with that same tender lovingkindness and compassion that Mother Teresa offered to so many.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

that wiley companion, the mind...

Lately my mind has been grinding and grinding, revisiting again and again what I interpret as being ‘negative ‘ scenarios, trying to find some reconciliation (while at the same time quite probably re-justifying my current perspective, my current interpretation. I’ve been kind of driving myself crazing. 

Last night I had two dreams. In one I encountered a person I know in ‘waking life.’ She kinda gave me the stink eye and I was chuckling to myself about this. In the second dream I was sitting at the end of a row of friends (my wife being the only person I actually know) at a sporting event. A woman says something funny and my wife and I start laughing with her about what she said. A man at the other end of the row of our friends gets very upset at us for laughing. He is very serious about this. My first inclination is to get serious and upset as well, but the madder he got the more we laughed.

I think that both of these dreams are telling me to quit taking the actions of my mind so seriously, to stop getting angry at the contents of my mind and my state of mind. I can get soooo serious about my current perspectives about myself, and so… not necessarily angry, but very frustrated when my mind goes places I don’t want it to go. I forget that the mind has a mind of it’s own, and I take it’s wanderings very personally - and therefore very seriously and frustratedly.

A wonderful teacher and mentor of mine, Angeles Arrien, said that where we cannot laugh with ourselves about ourselves is an indication of where we are attached. Being able to laugh at our foibles is truly a gift to ourselves. It loosens changes our perspectives, and subsequently things up, and lightens our loads. 

And I get to enjoy the realization that I have a lot to laugh about!

To quote the Thai Buddhist master, Ajahn Chah, "If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.  If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.  And if you let go completely, you will have complete peace."