Monday, April 19, 2010

Meeting the World Differently

One recurring theme of this blog, as it is for my teaching, is that in order to reduce suffering we must release the tight fist of grasping. Letting the hand open is the fastest and surest way to make our life happier. It is not my idea, of course. The Buddha said the same thing, and I learned it from Phillip Moffitt who learned it from his teacher, Ajahn Sumedho, and so on and on.

This process has remained alive in the teaching of the Dharma because it works. It is repeated often because we humans need to constantly be reminded of it. Remember that we are born with a "grasp reflex" (see 12/7/09 blog) that makes clinging second nature to us as a means of survival.  Unfortunately, like many primitive instincts, this is yet another reflex that has become dysfunctional and causes us problems.

When the mind meets the world with a posture of clinging or aversion, we suffer. Plain and simple. When the mind meets the world with an open hand and an open heart, our suffering is reduced. Counterintuitive though it may seem, this way of greeting our experiences - flinging open the door to our home and welcoming whoever knocks - will prove in the long run to be most effective course of action.

When we meet the world in this way, our relationship to the experience changes. When our relationship to the experience changes, the experience itself changes. Therefore, we don't need to do so much to try to change things; simply greet situations, people, and things as they arise more openly in a posture of acceptance. Where there was once constriction, pain, and tension is now openness, spaciousness, and letting go. We then discover our true nature of peacefulness, happiness, compassion, and loving kindness.

As best as you can today, greet whatever presents itself in your life with an open hand and heart. This does not mean that we need to condone harmful behavior, but that we relax, soften, and allow what is in this moment to be known. Then notice how the situation changes simply because you have changed your relationship to the situation.

From Chuang Tzu, a Taoist sage from the 3rd Century, B.C.E.:
A drunken man who falls out of a cart, though he may suffer, does not die. His bones are the same as other people's; but he meets his accident in a different way. His spirit is in a condition of rest. He is not conscious of riding in the cart; neither is he conscious of falling out of it. Ideas of life, death, fear and the like cannot penetrate his breast; and so he does not suffer from contact with objective existence. If such security is to be got from wine, how much more is to be got from the Tao?

1 comment:

  1. I will try to rely more on the Tao than wine as we meet the sadness of probably saying goodbye to Bill's sister - if we make it there in time.