I wrote this about a week ago, and felt afraid to share it, so vulnerable and honest. But then a friend sent me an email with such beauty and honesty, and it sparked an idea that I wrote about yesterday, which I will send out in my blog tomorrow. And my dharma teacher was so honest and vulnerable at our meditation sangha group last night and we all loved her for it, for her willingness to model the practice, to show us how it works for her. And the truth is, this is what I love, and I want to do what I love; to share what I love; to love because that is what I love. So here goes:
It is difficult, this practice of loving. It takes effort, diligence, vigilance as much as heart, the willingness to stay with it.
I have been watching my mind spin out in so many directions, feeling terribly ungrounded and afraid. I have been struggling with old patterns of thinking, comparing myself to others and coming up short: “I am not as pretty, as together, as rich, as steady, as wise, as accomplished, as successful”. And then the self-pity shows up: “how could I be here,” and the doubt: “I will never be able to succeed”.
I am wondering: How will I do this, be present and be available for work, for making money, for sharing my gifts with the world?.
And then a thought, if I want this to be my practice, and my work, then I have to do what the other teachers do…I have to say that this is my work, this loving inquiry, and then I can offer it through dana. That is how teachers survive, they use the 2500 year tradition of generosity, of students offering their support to the teacher in return for the teachings.
Because the work is difficult and it is constant, every moment, to be awake takes all of my effort. If this is the goal that supercedes all goals, then this is what I am doing. Waking myself up, trying to not harm myself or others, to find relief from suffering, to be at peace with whatever is occurring.
Is it what I want? It is what I need, what I believe is vital, for myself. Nothing external will suffice, no band-aid, no other goal will take the place of this one. This is the one that I have been following throughout the others, alongside all the others: the master’s, the doctorate, the teaching, the dissertation, the poetry manuscript, the cd.
I sat on the cushion and watched the breath through my nostrils, it was more prominent than the breath in my belly this morning. It was not easy to be in my body, there were aches in my shoulder and so much vibration in my arms and legs. uncomfortable, unpleasant. I bathed my body in breath, felt myself immersed in a bath, a pool ,an ocean of breath, warm, enveloping.
I spoke the anicca chant:
all things are impermanent, they arise and they pass away,
to be in harmony with this truth brings great happiness.
Over and over again to myself. To remind myself that all of this busy mind, all of this dukkha, this suffering slung at myself in the form of self-criticism: wanting what others have, not wanting a friend to succeed because she would then look better than me. I saw it all and I chanted to remember that these thoughts are not permanent, nor to be believed nor clung to. I am not these thoughts. They are the mind’s delusions, the ego’s self-protections.
Then I saw an image of a person, a body folding into itself and another folding over it, cuddling it. I saw the image of the Selkie painting in my studio, of the seal embracing the woman and I realized that the wholemetta practice is represented in that painting. The safety, and the peace and the tenderness and the ease and joy. I said the metta phrases, and I started to calm down. Then I started to cry, to weep, felt my body releasing the tension I had been holding in my jaw and in my shoulders and in my heart.
I kept crying, and they weren’t only my tears but the tears of all beings. I pictured the image of the wagon on this blog, saw it as the load we all carry as human beings, our noble suffering, the truths I am learning to deepen into with Phillip Moffitt’s beautiful book, Dancing with Life.
And now I am here writing it out, seeing how vital the sitting was to go through all that, to release the tension, to remember the groundlessness and the practices that brings me into the mindfuness of the moment.
So I understand why the dream said teach love to women on a hill, and I think I need to do exactly that. I don’t have to know exactly what it will look like. The poems are a part of it, the cd, and the tarot and the meditation circle and the groups of artful loving inquiry and the one-on-ones such as a friend asked for the other day. She wants me to come over and meditate with her. I can do that, and I can ask for dana, for generosity, as the Buddha taught.Because, as I wrote in my journal this morning, I value my own worth. And that means others will value it too!