December 21, 2012

Meditation and the End of the World as We Know It

Does being in silent meditation make you think of grim moments?  Do you think you need to approach life, too,  with grim determination, opening the door with trepidation?   

What if you realize that in the world around you birds still sing, people laugh and joke? 

It's not the end of the world,  if you can be curious about it. Right now.

In this dharma talk, Chodron reminds us of the need for joy in our lives, even when there is suffering, anxiety, a terrible crisis.  As an illustration, she shares the story of the woman running away from tigers, who falls down a cliff only to find herself hanging from a vine that is being gnawed at by mice!  Within reach there is a ripe berry to be plucked, right in the midst of this moment of life and death. An opportunity to experience joy,  in an unexpected fruit. 

Would you take this challenge to experience joy, in the waning hours of the world, if it ended today?

Remember, if you resent what happens to you or dread a future calamity, it's like refusing to appreciate the arrival of a hawk in your yard, or not seeing the lovely flowers someone brings us out of their desire to share joy.  Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.

For Chodron, the invitation to experience joy in her own practice, came in her meeting with  Sister Ayya Khema, a Theravadin nun.

Ayya Khema helped Chodron connect with the heart emotion we all share, but are often unaware of.  Joy allows us to lighten up, and enjoy ourselves. It is a whole new way of experiencing our suffering.

We call this tigers above, tigers below. Suspended as we are between birth and death, we are always in a similar predicament. We could be depressed or conflicted about this, or we could surrender to appreciation!  

Thich Nath Hanh's, A Guide to Walking Meditation shares the secret that there is "no need to go somewhere else to find the wonders of the Pure Land." Wonder and delight are there in every moment, breath, step, in our lives. We all carry a burden. You can put it down. You can "connect with the joy in your heart."  Trungpa Rinpoche would say, "You can do it."  

What a twist to our program's mantra, to surrender! To Let Go and let God. To experience the loving power of God,  12-step old-timers say,  "You are each a toaster, if you plug yourself in."

The Navajo teach their children that every morning when the sun comes up it is a new sun.  It is born, lives through the day, and then leaves, never to be return again.   Children learn when they are old enough, that "The sun has only one day. You must live this day in a good way, so the sun will not have wasted its precious time." 

Such a "One Day at a Time" kind of awareness is a good way to live, that can "reconnect with our basic joy."

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