I want to share a lovely, at times hilarious Dharma talk that I watched last night here. It's by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and I have to say there is something I totally love about this guy's Dharma and the Bon tradition. There is a wisp of the ethereal in it, a large measure of practicality; it overflows with wisdom and his talks are never without the sweet taste of humour. A great recipe in my mind and the more you listen to him, the more you see how deeply understands the western mind.
The talk I listened to was on creativity, but I would say it applies to all of life, rather than "the arts". He's talking about a creative approach. He talks a lot about the stories we run with, the ones we tell ourselves and others. And it is in fact belly laugh material. At one point he says something like, "I don't know all of your family and friends but I know that one person who gives you trouble. I hear about them all the time. I don't know if you even have other family members other than this one difficult person."
At one point he proposes that what we really need is therapists we go to and all we can tell is the good stories about our life, the happy picnic we remember as a child, the co-worker who we get along with. Hmm, sign me up!
And he reminds us of the impact our habitual negative thoughts have on our whole being. He is encouraging us to lighten up, to nourish ourselves with stories of what is right in our lives; what was right in the past, what was nourishing today, what's delicious on the horizon.
And of course it's not about living in stories, but it's about using our mind in wholesome ways. It is inevitable that we will think thoughts, why not train the mind to give weight to the nourishing ones, instead of the old patterns of worry, fear and depression. If unwholesome thoughts arise as they will, we don't need to energize them. This is our work. It's as RM Jiyu Kennett of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives said, "The mind makes a good servant but not a very good master." And never to negate the value of simply being present with what is, without words or stories. This too is incredibly nourishing.
I will end with a story that he shares. Two shoe salesmen go to Africa and find a huge population of bare footed people. One salesman says, "no, this will never work, no one wears shoes here." The other salesman looks at the same sight and says, "wow, look at the potential here." Which salesman are you? I know what I've been selling myself. Time to change my mind shopping habits.