We already have what we need – your brain and your heart are your temples, and your philosophy, kindness.
Where all our frustrations, hassles and malaise are once and for all put to rest.
Couple things: what if
1) we fully relax into the reality that we can’t do mindfulness meditation wrong, and
2) the striving to get to that magic place is compounding our subtle (and not so subtle) discontent?
This is assuming, of course, you experience even a smidgen of discontent or disappoint in your life.
And if you don’t, and start practicing, well … you just might run into some, as mindfulness starts to percolate down into strata of our minds many of us have conveniently disregarded for years and decades.
So here we are.
As it says in the Zhuangzi , the ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (476–221 BC):
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
Some folks I talk to seem to be unconsciously insisting they need certain things to get started with mindful meditation, such as the right book (or set of books), mp3s, DVDs.
To say nothing of understanding challenging theories and philosophies.
Consider a remark by no other than the Dalai Lama:
“There is no need for temples. No need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples. My philosophy is kindness.”
Such a striking statement I feel shows that indeed, as Don Cupitt notes in his remarkable book The Great Questions of Life:
“We are at the beginning (possibly in the middle, but definitely not at the end) of a global shift in the concept of religion, a shift away from the view of religion as a way of transcending the human condition and toward a view that religion is about embracing the human condition.”
This “No need for temples and complicated philosophies” sounds a lot like John Lennon:
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…”
We already have what we need – your “brain and your heart “are your temples, and your philosophy, kindness.
With your brain and your heart, and with kindness and mindfulness meditation, we can truly “embrace the human condition” as Don Cupitt says.
When we embrace with mindfulness what is actually happening in the moment, be it stubbing your toe or your pride, we learn again and again that the fuller we can embrace “what is,” the fuller mind and body can relax and rest.
And in that rest there may be found a juicyness, fullness, some call it a joy, in just experiencing, without grasping or rejecting, what arises, completely.
This is a quiet and deep joy that, in a way, has always been there, covered over by strata of reactivity and compulsiveness which subtly rule our lives, in one form or another.
In our meditation practice, the goal is not the deal, it’s the steps on the path. Each step, actually.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says, in the title to one of his books,
“Peace is every step.”
One teacher I was very fortunate to sit a retreat with early on in my practice was Munindra, a Bengali teacher who trained in Burma.
One of his students, Sharon Salzberg, recounts that when Munindra was asked once why he practiced his response was,
“So I will see the tiny purple flowers by the side of the road as I walk to town each day.”
Can we practice like this?
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