The Lily - a poem by Mary Oliver
Night after night
enters the face
of the lily
closes its five walls
and its purse
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand there
in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
saying in lily language
some small words
we can’t hear
even when there is no wind
are so secret,
is so hidden–
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience
until the whole earth has turned around
and the silver moon
becomes the golden sun–
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn’t it,
the perfect prayer?
I was nervous when I signed up for the year long meditation instructor immersion I’m currently in and already half way through. I knew I had what it takes to teach true Dharma given my life exerpiences thus far. What I was nervous about was letting these 20 or so people I’d be studying with over the course of this year, see very facet of my being. I knew I would have to tell every syllable of my story, and for me that is the ultimate scary place. I often speculate in my own mind that my story is just too painful to share. I often think it’s too painful for others to hear or maybe just too tragic for them to grasp. I realize this is my own mistaken view, because everytime I share even a piece of my story, others resonate, others hear, others are so grateful. I realize this was my mistaken view that I was the only one living in pain in this lifetime. This further demonstrates the often deep separation that we all share as human beings. We live our entire lives wrapped up in our thoughts, thinking others can’t know us, can’t love us, can’t be there with us. But all the while is this precious opportunity to wake up and realize we are never alone. We share every emotion, every touch, every thought, every deed with all of human creation. We are the ultimate group of energies all expressing what we know to express. We are all wandering this planet searching for that one thing, happiness.
My one wish is for others to realize what real happiness is. It’s presence for someone other than yourself. It’s looking deeply into others’ being. It’s appreciating what you see. It’s resting in the moments in the here and now, and seeing clearly. That is true love. True presence. The ultimate gift to yourself and all beings throughout time, appreciating what we have, in this moment.
Mostly we go around trying to control everything. Always wanting things just slightly different than they actually are right now. It’s like taking a vacation and flying to California, only to get off the plane and immediatly flying to New York, then immediatly after landing taking another plane to Colorado, only to board a plane to India, then England, the traveling never stops. We are constantly making useless plane trips in our mind, on to the next thing, without ever stopping to enjoy the new terrain we have landed in. Stopping here and noticing this moment is enjoying the best vacation of your life. It takes you away from those endless loops of cravings and thoughts in your mind. Only in the present, is peace possible.
Take a moment to appreciate the gift you have right now. You have the ability to be present. You have air in your lungs and food to eat. The conditions are exactly right. Be here.
Showing up, being on the spot,
Why don’t we like it?
It’s teaches us patience,
It teaches us acceptance.
It teaches us to put wants and desires on hold.
We are forced to embody the present,
We are forced to sweat.
We are uncomfortable.
We don’t like it.
We would rather be entertained.
We would rather be distracted.
We like not looking at the true nature of the mind.
The wise teachers say stop.
Breathe and except,
This moment is what it is,
Feel those emotions,
Jump into the middle of them as if you were leaping into a lake,
Let the feelings ripple out in the world.
Become buoyant with the unknown.
Rest and float with awareness.
Except that this is now.
Now is here.
Now sometimes is uncomfortable,
We don’t like it.
Without running away, we learn.
We become wise.
Being here is an experience to teach us the ways.
The ways of love.
The ways of becoming comfortable with the uncertain.
Anxiety shows where work needs to be done.
Worry shows were to become quiet.
Be only here.
On the spot.
Ready to learn.
Finishing up a 6 week study course on fear I’m realizing now just how scared I’ve been my entire life. It’s like a breathe of fresh air learning to relate to your fear in a different manner. I see now how fear has ran my entire life. I grew up in a constant state of fear. Even now there are many moments of fear in my day to day life and If I trace those feelings and memories back they go back as far as I can remember. As a child I never knew what to expect. Having lived through so much trauma I was always looking over my shoulder wondering when the next painful experience would rear it’s ugly face and tear my life to shreds once more. Soon I developed ways of completely shutting down and disassociating myself with my outer world so I could continue on.
I lived in a vivid hell realm state out in the world (school, work) and at home. I had no safe haven. I had no refuge. I didn’t have many I could relate to, let alone talk to. I excepted that maybe this world was just an isolated dark and scary place. I thought god hated me and he wanted me to suffer, I couldn’t understand why I was born in such a cruel world. I began to resent my parents for having me brought me into this mess.
Of course once I came of age I realized the world isn’t always filled with pain. It is there yes, but there is also joy on the other side. For the first time I noticed glimpses of some other way of life. I started to really believe I could be happy, I just hadn’t been taught how to yet. The first time I sat down to try and find that happiness was the day I discovered meditation. I found the book in a used book store, sat down and followed the instructions. I sat for maybe 3 minutes total. I remember one distinct realization after my first session. “holy shit! There can be space between my thoughts.” That was when the unraveling on my deep ingrained habitual tendencies and pain began. The day my heart started to open.
Since then I’ve let go of a lot. I’ve forgiven a lot and I still have much work to do. I’m learning each day how to love and take care of myself, and others. I’m learning that the painful things that happen to us we don’t deserve. I’m learning that my fear is valid. It’s ok to be scared. Even if you are scared of everything! The difference between being scared when I was a reactive child and now is, right now I sense my fear. I know its there, and I say “hello there fear.” I ask it to come in and get comfortable, might as well, since we spend so much time together. I continue breathing and ride the moment of awareness. There is fear in my body.
I’m no longer resentful of all my experiences. I love that I have a platform to share my pain. I love that I have the chance to influence others and show them the path of love. I love that I can help others and tell them, you know…I’ve been there.
I have been there, and I’m here with you right now. Whatever pain you have in your life, I feel you. You should feel the pain to. Listen to what it’s trying to say. It’s there to teach you a lesson, no matter how much we don’t want to pay attention. That fear will continue to show up and teach you. Say hello to it. Feel it. A profound transformation to relating with your fear will begin at that moment.
I know that fear will continue to arise in my reality but I’m willing to get curious about what that really means. I’m willing to let go of my fear of fear. It’s just energy. Sometimes very uncomfortable energy, but in the end just energy.
"If we are out of sync with reality it is going to hurt. If we are in sync with reality it’s also going to hurt, but it will be an appreciative hurt, which will feel good. " - Ethan Nichtern
Learning to be excepting of emotions like fear and basically just being present to whatever I may feel in the present is now my intention. How do you relate with your fear?
The cold wind locks you in
Let it not close your heart
Open as wide as the horizon
Let love flow
Out to the corners of the earth
In through the corners of your spirit
Breathe a sigh of relief
You are here, protected, safe
Beings surround you with love and devotion
For they have nothing else to give
Look inward towards the beauty
That lives under the worry
The worries fade away
When we love
When we laugh
When we let go
Smile at the world
For it is filled with good.
You are the start of that good
I’d like to thank you for that.
When you are frightened by something, you have to relate with fear, explore why you are frightened, and develop some sense of conviction. You can actually look at fear. Then fear ceases to be the dominant situation that is going to defeat you. Fear can be conquered. You can be free from fear, if you realize that fear is not the ogre. You can step on fear, and therefore you can attain what is known as fearlessness. But that requires that, when you see fear, you smile.
—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche - from The Sacred Path of the Warrior
A couple of months ago I started volunteering at my mediation center in New York once a week. I wanted to give more and thought this would be the perfect way to give my time and energy and help the greater good, plus at the same time, learn from working with magical meditative people. During my internship here I was asked if I would be interested in meditating in Time Square for the center. I would be going with one other person who would document the session with photos and hand out information if the passerby-ers were interested in learning more about meditation with us.
I didn’t even think twice about it. I thought, what a great idea! How do we get started? So the day came and went. I sat in Times Square for about an hour. So much was happening around me, but eventually I settled into my seat and it was like any other sitting session. Just me on a pillow with my mind.
I had such a great time putting the word out about the center and all the great things they do for the community here, I was excited to see what would happen next.
Then this blog was posted. http://www.theidproject.org/blog/nancy-thompson/2012/08/18/public-meditation-showing-or-showing
Please read for back story.
I was completely taken by surprise. I didn’t understand how someone could make so many assumptions about my practice and intentions to begin with. I also couldn’t believe that this person, (who is the editor of our entire website) would publish such a blog with said assumptions and not even bother to ask me any questions first. I understand if sitting in public is not your thing, but should it be frowned upon for others who don’t share you’re view? Just the title of the blog alone sent me into a frenzy. Showing off? What?
Just so we don’t get things twisted let me spell out my intentions:
1. To show others you can find stillness in the midst of chaos. (both in our minds, and literally in Times Square)
2. To promote the Interdependence Project and advertise for new students.
3. To simply breathe and see if meditating in such a busy environment is even possible for me.
Showing off was never on the list.
My entire aim in life is to share my practice with as many people as possible to help them. Isn’t that what a Bodhisattva does? My practice saved my life. I know for sure I would not be alive today without it. That’s my aim. That’s it. It’s simple really.
After this occurrence I’ve realized maybe I’m not ready to be so public with my practice. Maybe I still have work to do. For now, Good luck with the Public Displays of Mediation, I’m out. I would rather put my efforts into something where I will be supported, not judged, and if there is any problems, I can be approached and questioned, not blogged about with assumptions galore.
The bottom line is, I was doing what I thought was a good thing. The result: confusion and now lack of interest in exploring this practice further for this organization. I shall revert back to my normal practice of working with my mind from my tiny Brooklyn apartment. No judgement, and no blogs will be posted about my experiences there.
And I’ll still be doing a good thing.
Desire means you have moved away from reality, you have moved away from that which is. Desire means you have fallen into the trap of a dream. Desire means you are not here now, you have gone somewhere in the future. Non-desire is enlightenment — so how can you desire enlightenment? If you desire enlightenment your very desire prevents its happening. You cannot desire enlightenment, you can only understand the nature of desire, and in the light of understanding, desire disappears — as you bring a lamp into a dark room, darkness disappears. Desire is darkness. When you light a candle of understanding, desire disappears. And when there is no desire, there is enlightenment.
—Osho - The Buddha Said…
We want to escape. We want to run away from pain rather than regard it as a source of inspiration. We feel the suffering to be bad enough, so why investigate it further? Some people who suffer a great deal realize that they cannot escape their suffering really begin to understand it. But most people are too busy attempting to rid themselves of irritation, too busy seeking distractions from themselves to look into the material they already have. It is too embarrassing to look into it. This is the attitude of paranoia: if you look too closely, you will find something fearful. But in order to be a completely inspired person like Gautama Buddha, you have to be very open-minded ad intelligent, an inquisitive person. You have to want to explore everything, even though it may be ugly, painful, or repulsive.
—Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
The pain of the past;
the anticipation of the future;
The sweetness of the present;