The mystery of the moment is that it opens all moments. I know this in a felt way because of the brief and total feelings of Oneness I have fallen into during my life. This can be affirmed but never verified. It is something to be experienced, not proved. Life presents itself constantly through the miracle of the smallest part containing the whole while the Infinite Whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. It is we who fall in and out of our awareness and experience of Oneness. In the same way the eye dilates and constricts, our sense of being opens and closes. It is the way the soul breathes on Earth. These openings and closings are not to be judged or censured, any more than we would censure exhaling over inhaling. We need both to live.
Most of the practices extolled by the spiritual traditions are aimed at restoring our openness of being, so we might fall into the mystery of the moment. Repeatedly, we chance to experience the eternal perspective animated by entering any moment completely enough that it reveals the vibrant pulse of all life. Even when blessed to experience this, we often don’t know what to do with this blessing. Do we quit our job? Sometimes. Do we stop denying the love we feel? Hopefully. Do we deny the undeniable fragility of life that is never far from us? Often. Mostly thought we are simply asked to be awake, to stay awake, to live more compassionately, to be more aware. Continue reading
I have learned that the path is not a physical one and there is no map to find it; rather, it is an idea that dwells in each of us, waiting to be awakened.
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
~Rumi (from Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks)
A friend of mine has a saying, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. Unfortunately.”
Other people are the most challenging aspect of our lives, particularly when we strongly disagree with their views, choices and behaviors. The ideal of unconditional love and acceptance of all people can sometimes seem like reckless folly, but on the other hand we can exhaust ourselves with endless worries about, and judgments of, the actions of others.
Try this idea on for size: the development of individual human beings tends generally from ignorance toward wisdom, and from selfishness toward compassion. In a sense everyone is on their own path toward greater wisdom and compassion, although these paths tend to be circuitous. Over the long term someone’s path leads eventually toward greater wisdom and compassion, but at a given time they may clearly be headed away from these virtues.
Seeing everyone as being on a path of positive growth and development may seem like Pollyanna-ish wishful thinking. It may seem like a hypothesis impossible to prove, but it can actually be confirmed by direct observation of life. It is similar to a hypothesis that every object will eventually fall to the ground. Such a hypothesis is not proven only when every last object has fallen to the ground, because life goes on – there are always still birds, clouds, satellites and planes in the air.
Learning how to be kind to ourselves is important. When we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe. When we discover the buddha that we are, we realize that everything and everyone is Buddha. We discover that everything is awake, and everyone is awake. Everything and everyone is precious and whole and good. When we regard thoughts and emotions with humor and openness, that’s how we perceive the universe.
When the sweet ache of being alive,
lodged between who you are
and who you will be,
befriend this moment.
It will guide you.
Its sweetness is what holds you.
Its ache is what moves you on.
~Mark Nepo, Three Intentions blog, 9/17/12
It’s not impermanence, per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.
~Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change