‘We all know what it feels like to treat others this way and to be treated like this—as a device rather than a person. it is very painful and, at the same time, very ordinary. You can tell when someone is looking right at you but not seeing you at all. They see their projection and, when you match it, there is harmony. When you diverge, there is discomfort. We all do this to others, all day long.
One definition of generosity in relationships is this: turn the projector off. Continuously set the intention and make the effort to separate the person you love from your projections about who they are and who you think they ought to be. Instead of holding them to your ideals, let down your guard. Open to them as they are. Release your agenda over and over. This is an incredibly generous thing to do.’ (from Lion’s Roar)
I have been studying this article on relationships with my student group, and this notion of releasing our own agendas again and again resonated.
‘Our liberation is actually not about transcending or distancing ourselves from trauma or pain and suffering, but it is to acknowledge how we can transform ourselves, our communities, our nation, our world, from all that pain.’ (from the New York Times)
This is from a report about the ceremony held on May 4th as a memorial for the victims of racial violence. I suspect that many people I know were tuning in; it’s hard to tell with the masks, but I might have met some of those in attendance. I recommend clicking on the link at least to look at the gorgeous photos. The words and the sentiments are also beautiful; we can all ask ourselves how we can contribute to this transformation.
‘Every choice we face provides us with an opportunity either to embrace or to break the hold that the past has had on us. No matter how often we have chosen a certain way in the past, so long as we are human, we retain the freedom (to always varying degrees) to disown earlier patterns and to break out onto a new path. But all of our previous decisions are weighing heavily in the direction of the character we have formed for ourselves through previous actions, thus making decisive change difficult. Decisions made do weigh on us, and their presence is lasting. That is why human freedom is so profound in its significance, awesome in its magnitude. All of us, to the extent that we are human and free, remember with terror and regret bad decisions that we have made in the past. These memories sensitize us to the responsibilities that accompany our freedom and help us to grasp just what is at stake each time we choose.’ (The Six Perfections)
‘Nirvana is not a place! Rather, it is simply a view! Remember what the Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna said: “Between samsara and nirvana, there is not the slightest thread of difference.” The only difference is in one’s perception of it. Viewed with attachment, our world of experience is samsara; viewed without such attachment, it is nirvana.’ (from Lion’s Roar)
‘Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings.’ (Genjo Koan)
I am sure there are other words from Dogen that illustrate the first point, but this was the one that came to mind.
‘I think that there’s a paradox about, for example, going out and saying, I am going to meditate and stop trying to get goals. Because I have this goal, which is I want to be a much better meditator. And I have done a bit of meditation and workshops, and it’s always a little amusing when you see the young men who are going to prove that they’re better at meditating. They can sit for longer than anybody else can. But I think it’s important to say when you’re thinking about things like meditation, or you’re thinking about alternative states of consciousness in general, that there’s lots of different alternative states of consciousness. So it isn’t just a choice between lantern and spotlight. There’s lots of different ways that we have of being in the world, lots of different kinds of experiences that we have. And I suspect that they each come with a separate, a different kind of focus, a different way of being. And in meditation, you can see the contrast between some of these more pointed kinds of meditation versus what’s sometimes called open awareness meditation. So open awareness meditation is when you’re not just focused on one thing, when you try to be open to everything that’s going on around you. And the phenomenology of that is very much like this kind of lantern, that everything at once is illuminated. And I think that kind of open-ended meditation and the kind of consciousness that it goes with is actually a lot like things that, for example, the romantic poets, like Wordsworth, talked about. So there’s this lovely concept that I like of the numinous. And sometimes it’s connected with spirituality, but I don’t think it has to be. It’s this idea that you’re going through the world. And often, quite suddenly, if you’re an adult, everything in the world seems to be significant and important and important and significant in a way that makes you insignificant by comparison.’ (from the New York Times)
I found this whole piece pretty intriguing, not least because they brought ‘beginner’s mind’ into the conversation. This paragraph made me smile, as did several others, so look out for further extracts to come.
‘If we engage our bodies and minds and breathing and emotions fully in mindfulness practice, on the other hand, that same quality of spacious connection can continue as we rise from meditation. Mindfulness goes hand in hand with noticing the environment around our body, around our breathing, around our thoughts and emotions. We listen to what our partner is saying rather than mentally replay the tense moments from our day at work. We notice the swaying of the trees in the wind, just as we notice the movement of our legs in walking meditation. Same directness, same inclusiveness.
From mindful listening can arise mindful speaking. Here non-effort may provide another helpful hint: leaving pauses in our speech allows for genuine dialogue. Slowing down the impulsive momentum of saying one thing after another is a natural result of mindfulness. Mindful communication is the basis of mindful communities.
Mindless speech is speech that causes harm through gossip, slander, lying, and deception. The result of such speech—as when politicians play on our fears to incite hatred—is a divided society; we feel more disconnected from each other. Mindful speech is acting to heal societal wounds.’ (from Lion’s Roar)
More warm and encouraging words from this article.
‘Equanimity is awareness so spacious that whatever arises in our mind and heart, whether agreeable or disagreeable, is small and incidental compared to awareness itself. In other words, when we are equanimous, nothing is left out of heart’s view’ (from Lion’s Roar)
‘Spiritual discipline is best conceived not as the repression of the energy of desire, but rather as its reorientation. The point of ascetic discipline that works against certain desires is gradually to learn the freedom of mastery, the freedom to choose among desires and to shape them, thus avoiding both harmful desires and detrimental relations to desires such as enslavement or addiction. Discipline regulates desire, channels and cultivates it, so that what we choose – life in pursuit of excellence – is actualized over against what would have occurred had we followed the desires that originally motivated our activity.
Those skilled in practices of mindfulness and in the discipline of character know how to assess desires. They consciously evaluate and rank desires, and when some of them are out of accord with chosen purposes – a “thought of enlightenment” – they also know how to extinguish them.’ (The Six Perfections)
Well, that’s the plan anyway.
‘My first Buddhist meditation teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, spoke of non-effort as a worthy partner to effort: “Effort, non-effort and effort, non-effort—it’s beautiful.”
Yes, it is important to apply ourselves, to engage fully in mindful living. But it is equally important to release all trying and confidently trust our innate mindfulness to shine through. All the Buddhist traditions of natural wakefulness, original goodness, or buddhanature are based on this sense of inborn wisdom not produced by meditating or walking the path. This is the practice of basic sanity through what is called “just sitting” or “non-meditation” or “primordial great perfection.” As the pioneering Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi phrased it: “The point we emphasize is strong confidence in our original nature.”
In this view, mindfulness is not a special attainment or an extraordinary event in our life journey. Mindfulness is an innate capacity, present in all sentient beings. Walking the path, we are gently cultivating our own nature, allowing seeds of potential to blossom. From this perspective, awakening is as natural as the dawning of the sun. We are invited to begin each session by feeling this naturally awake quality—and to return to this original openness again and again during practice and everyday life.’ (from Lion’s Roar)
We looked at this article in my student group this week, and this passage drew the most attention.
‘When I am speaking about sangha, I am reminding people that when we gather together as a community of spiritual practitioners, we take on a special purpose. We are no longer an ordinary community. We are more than just blood family or an activist affinity group. We are people consenting together to help another obtain spiritual realization. No one has to like anyone. I have been in spiritual communities where there have been people I wouldn’t call a friend. However, what makes sangha important is that I can recognize that I don’t like soomeone, maybe put up some boundaries that protect our relationship from becoming violent, while focusing on my love for that person. Again, when I love, I am accepting someone and wanting them to be happy. We don’t have to like someone to love them. I think this is somuch of what makes the spiritual community important.’ (Love and Rage)
I entirely agree, and I suspect have said as much elsewhere here over the years.