Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not... maybe you're not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine.
Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not. That's a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it's a passing memory, and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you're not okay . Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. We are walking, talking paradoxes.
Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment,
Buddha is our inherent natureour buddha natureand what that means is that if youre going to grow up fully, the way that it happens is that you begin to connect with the intelligence that you already have. Its not like some intelligence thats going to be transplanted into you. If youre going to be fully mature, you will no longer be imprisoned in the childhood feeling that you always need to protect yourself or shield yourself because things are too harsh. If youre going to be a grown-upwhich I would define as being completely at home in your world no matter how difficult the situationits because you will allow something thats already in you to be nurtured. You allow it to grow, you allow it to come out, instead of all the time shielding it and protecting it and keeping it buried. Someone once told me, When you feel afraid, thats fearful buddha. That could be applied to whatever you feel. Maybe anger is your thing. You just go out of control and you see red, and the next thing you know youre yelling or throwing something or hitting someone. At that time, begin to accept the fact that thats enraged buddha. If you feel jealous, thats jealous buddha. If you have indigestion, thats buddha with heartburn. If youre happy, happy buddha; if bored, bored buddha. In other words, anything that you can experience or think is worthy of compassion; anything you could think or feel is worthy of appreciation.
Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view, with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. Youd just like to have a little peace; youd like to have a little happiness, you know, just gimme a break! But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and whats outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you just try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.
Id like to encourage us all to lighten up, to practice with a lot of gentleness. This is not the drill sergeant saying, Lighten up or else. I have found that if we can possibly use anything we hear against ourselves, we usually do.
If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, its fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that theres an arrow in your heart...
If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them.
In truth, there is enormous space in which to live our everyday lives.
I saw a cartoon that describes this. A head of iceberg lettuce is sitting in a garden saying, Oh, no, how did I get in this vegetable garden again? I wanted to be a wildflower! The caption reads, Oscar is born again as a head of iceberg lettuce in order to overcome his fear of being eaten. One can think from a bigger perspective than this whole notion of reward and punishment. You could see your life as an adult education course. Some of the curriculum you like and some you dont like; some of what comes up you find workable, some you dont. Thats the curriculum for attaining enlightenment. The question is, how do you work with it?
It is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others.
It is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others. If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them. True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
It's as if you were in a spaceship going to the moon, and you looked back at this tiny planet Earth and realized that things were vaster than any mind could conceive and you just couldn't handle it, so you started worrying about what you were going to have for lunch. There you are in outer space with this sense of the world being so vast, and then you bring it all down into this very tiny world of worrying about what's for lunch... We do this all the time.
Just as you accumulate merit by going beyond hope and fear and saying, Let it be, the same with the dön; theres some sense of let it be. There is even an incantation that says, Not only do I not want you to go away, you can come back any time you like. And here, have some cake. Personally, when I read that, I got sort of scared. The commentary said that you invite them back because they show you when you have lost your mindfulness. You invite them back because they remind you that youve spaced out. The döns wake you up. As long as you are mindful, no dön can arise. But theyre like cold germs, viruses; wherever theres a gapBoom!in they come. The dön will refuse your invitation to come back as long as youre awake and open, but the moment you start closing off, it will accept your invitation with pleasure and eat your cake anytime. Thats called feeding the ghosts.
Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that's all that's happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness--life's painful aspect--softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody's eyes because you feel you haven't got anything to lose--you're just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We'd be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn't have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.
None of us is ever OK, but we all get through everything just fine.
One evening Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, only to find it filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the joint. He knew about nonduality of self and other, but he still didnt quite know how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were just a projection of his own mindall the unwanted parts of himselfhe didnt know how to get rid of them. So first he taught them the dharma. He sat on this seat that was higher than they were and said things to them about how we are all one. He talked about compassion and shunyata and how poison is medicine. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then he lost his patience and got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally, he gave up and just sat down on the floor, saying, Im not going away and it looks like youre not either, so lets just live here together. At that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said, Oh, this one is particularly vicious. (We all know that one. Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel thats all weve got.) He didnt know what to do, so he surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, Just eat me up if you want to. Then that demon left too.
también podemos ver lo que hacemos no solo con honestidad, también con sentido del humor y después seguir adelante sin convertir esos rasgos negativos en toda una identidad.
Theres a richness to all of the smelly stuff that we so dislike and so little desire. The delightful thingswhat we love so dearly about ourselves, the places in which we feel some sense of pride or inspirationthese also are our wealth.
Tonglen means "taking in and sending out". This meditation practice is designed to help ordinary people like ourselves connect with the openness and softness of our hearts. Instead of shielding and protecting our soft spot, with tonglen we could let ourselves feel what it is to be human.
Tonglen practice (and all meditation practice) is not about later, when you get it all together and youre this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the worldthats a fine place to start. Thats a very rich place to startjuicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All of that is a good place to start. Just where you arethats the place to start.
True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings. Later
WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselvesthe heavy-duty fearing that were bad and hoping that were good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kindsnever touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.
We can use our difficulties and problems to awaken our hearts.
We would like to believe that when things are still and calm, thats the real stuff, and when things are messy, confused, and chaotic, weve done something wrong, or more usually someone else has done something to ruin our beautiful meditation. As someone once said about a loud, bossy woman, What is that woman doing in my sacred world?
When one of the emperors of China asked Bodhidharma (the Zen master who brought Zen from India to China) what enlightenment was, his answer was, Lots of space, nothing holy. Meditation is nothing holy. Therefore theres nothing that you think or feel that somehow gets put in the category of sin. Theres nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of bad. Theres nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of wrong. Its all good juicy stuffthe manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.
When the resistance is gone, so are the demons. Its like a koan that we can work with by learning how to be more gentle, how to relax, and how to surrender to the situations and people in our lives.
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.