Friday, April 30, 2010

Buddhist Thought for the Day

There's a reason I chose the poem on Love in the last post. I'm realizing more and more just how much of the disruptions, disagreements and misunderstandings we have in our lives are related to love or a feeling of the lack thereof.

Look back at your most recent or even your furthest memory of this type of disruption in your life and ask yourself, "How much of this was related to someone's feeling of 'not enough love'?" My guess is you'll see that nearly every single one comes down to the same thing.

We all want love, and to feel safe within love. But I don't believe we are necessarily here just to make each other feel safe. I think we're here to challenge each other, to learn and grow together and feel safe enough within ourselves to share love, honesty, intimacy. But people erect all kinds of barriers and methods of protecting themselves because they don't feel safe enough, loved enough.

In Pema Chodron's "Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living", she writes about the very barriers we construct with perfect clarity. We work so hard to set up our lives in just such a way that only the things we want can touch us, and in controlling our surroundings and constructing our world in the 'me-victorious' fashion she mentions, we inevitably control the people within our surroundings though we are loathe to admit it.

"The armor we erect around our soft hearts causes alot of misery. But don't be deceived, it's very transparent. The more vivid it gets, the more clearly you see it, the more you realize that this shield--this cocoon-- is just made up of thoughts that we churn out and regard as solid. The shield is not made out of iron. The armor is not made out of metal. In fact, it's made out of passing memory."

"We shield our heart with an armor woven out of very old habits of pushing away pain and grasping at pleasure. When we begin to breathe in the pain instead of pushing it away, we begin to open our hearts to what's unwanted. When we relate directly in this way to the unwanted areas of our lives, the airless room of ego begins to be ventilated."

"No matter what the teachings are...the point at which they all agree is to let go of holding on to yourself. That's the way of becoming at home in your world.

This is not to say that ego is sin. Ego is not sin. Ego is not something that you get rid of. Ego is something that you come to know--something that you befriend by not acting out or repressing all the feelings that you feel.

Whether we're talking about the painful international situation or our painful domestic situation, the pain is a result of what's called ego clinging, of wanting things to work out on our own terms, of wanting 'me-victorious'.

Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view, with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You'd just like to have a little peace...But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and what's outside your room grows.

Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you just try to get it your own way, the less you feel at home.

To begin to develop compassion for yourself and others, you have to unlock the door...Sure enough, in come the music and the smells that you don't like. Sure enough, someone puts a foot in and tells you that you should be a different religion or vote for someone you don't like or give money that you don't want to give.

Now you begin to relate with those feelings. You develop some compassion, connecting with the soft spot. You relate with what begins to happen when you're not protecting yourself so much. Then become more curious than afraid.

To be fearless isn't really to overcome fear, it's to come to know its nature. Just open the door more and more and at some point you'll feel capable of inviting all sentient beings as your guests."

I recognize and witness all of the above within me and am so very grateful to those in my sphere~ friends, family and Pema Chodron alike~ who challenge me and help me to become the person I am becoming.


  1. Kirsten my dearest,
    Thank you for coming to my post and seeing more of who I am. I so appreciate your comments AND coming here to see your inner world. Oh how true....finding all the courage and strength that is planted within us by something greater that us. And to think it is in us for the taking and using for the glory of goodness and benefit of all. Just wonderful. Thank you for being a reflective person!!!! Much love to you on this fine day, Anita

  2. Thanks Anita for always being here! You are so gratefully appreciated!


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