If you think of life as a journey, most of us jump on the interstate. We rush to our destination (death), hurrying, hurrying. The road is intentionally built away from anything that might slow it down, so one misses the 35 mph changes and endless intersections and stop signs…the small towns, the folks waving from their porches, the mountains and streams and forests.
Buddhism has been a much-needed exit ramp from the mindlessness of interstate travel to the more intimate reality of a the small by-way. Everything comes into focus. Yes, there is pain, but it hurts less when you really feel it. And there is so much happiness! To experience each day seems a wondrous gift. To feel protected and safe, to be contented and pleased, to have life unfold like a poem, like a flower in the sun’s embrace…lovely. Every night I feel a kind of sadness that the day is over and every morning I awaken with a new curiosity about the day to come. So different from just getting through till my next day off or laying down and realizing I was only slightly present for the whole of the day!
I don’t feel as if I’ve even begun this practice, like I’m in some sort of remedial prep stage…yet the difference is astonishing to me and I have hope of much more as I go…
Buddhism has been a bit like yoga to me, in that it took a bit of study to find the branch of yoga that suits me best and so with the different lineages of Buddhism. But even as I’ve been studying the different strains, I’ve loved that the Buddha encouraged one to listen to all the teaching and keep only what resonated close to the heart. And I love that there are so many variations on the practices and even the teachings because of the sculpting each culture did to create their own, very personal practices. I get the feeling that the west is still in the beginning stages of adapting the dharma to fit culturally and temperamentally.
Sometimes I lay in bed at night with my mind and heart so full of new ideas and perceptions and feelings that it is difficult to give in to sleep!
Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
In the very here and now,
The practitioner dwells
In stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who knows
How to dwell in mindfulness
Night and day
“One who knows the better way to live.”