Looks like Wednesday night posts will stand on the shoulder's of the evening's Dharma talk. I am always inspired by a good Dharma talk and Heather Martin delivers the apres sit wisdom with ease and spontaneity. How do we meet the ever changing experiences of life? How do we work with difficult emotions? Are we easily thrown off centre when things don't go the way we expected or the way we "want" them to go? Do we react to circumstances in habitual ways, in the blink of an eye, ways that may be unhelpful and that we sometimes live to regret? Do we watch the dominoes of karma tumbling down in familiar and painful patterns?
The analogy tossed out was that of a ping pong ball. Do you get easily blown off course when the life gives you a little tap (or a big tap)? When we are constantly at the beck and call of outer circumstance, life can feel exhausting and chaotic. Things are always changing (anicca), so can we meet those changes with a solid inner stance? Can we meet life with some modicum of equanimity?
How do we do this? Heather suggested we might practice being "undisturbable". How does this feel, to be undisturbable? A plate is the image she used to illustrate this state. Unlike the ping pong ball easily bounced about by the winds of change, the plate has a wide open base and is more difficult to throw off balance. It has an openness. For us this means if we are going to make like plates, (no running away like the dish with the spoon, eek I'm quoting nursery rhymes now!) we open up to what is. We accept circumstances and people and work from there. This acceptance helps us enter a state or perhaps is simultaneous with the state of equanimity.
And of course our meditation practice over the years helps us transform ourselves from ping pong balls into plates or perhaps we gradually get to spend more time, making like plates and less time pinging around. Our intention to be "undisturbable" becomes an important aspect of this transformation, and our willingness to chip away at habitual behaviour, our knee jerk reactions to life and all it brings to our doorsteps, is part of the firing process.
It is helpful for us to look at those times when we say "oh, no", to examine them. They are opportunities for us to look at what we are rejecting in this very moment, what we wish were different. "Oh, no" is like a little flashing light telling us, poof, we're about to become a ping pong ball.
So go forth my friends, and make yourselves into the most beautiful plate you can imagine. And something marvelous will happen. You will fill up with the treasures of life because a plate has room to hold it all.