|Here's the beginning of my Japanese style garden|
"We can make the light of mindfulness a searchlight for encroaching evil that we imagine dwells within us; this is what the habit-mind often does. Or we can make this mindfulness the light of lovingkindness, gentle and hospitable. Experience can be known and met warmly. Dwelling in the glow of relaxed, loving acceptance, the chill is warmed, the strain unwrenched, the grasping released." - from Insight Dialogue by Gregory Kramer
When I read this the other night it reminded me of something I've been doing a lot of lately. "Mindfulness", just being aware of what is, has been getting tangled up with judgment. Now judgment being a strong contender in the ring, it tends to go quite a few rounds and bashes me upside the head good many times before I stop wobbling around. So instead of dispassionately seeing what my mind habitually gets up to, I have been holding what I observe, against myself. "Oh, there's fear, (not again, I'm so tired of this) and there's timidity (I need to stop being like that.) and the commentary continues. Instead of using practice to grow wisdom, my practice can easily become just another measuring stick that I hold up for myself. "Officer, arrest that woman for malpractice."
|A little close up ( you need a break from all that reading)|
The mind is a crafty conniver. It can rework anything into it's favourite flavour, even if the flavour is nasty, and chewy and bitter. The Dalai Lama was surprised to hear that Westerners often feel "not good enough". And apparently we will use just about anything, including our Dharma practice, to fulfill this prophecy. But noticing what we're up to is the point at which we kick judgment out of the ring on a technicality. He was never invited to this event in the first place. Maybe we don't actually kick him out, he just slinks away like a monster in a nightmare, when we turn to look at him.
And so this is where my practice has been lately. It's a strange little macrame hanger that I've been using to tighten the noose.
|Here's me wondering if I should have bought a houseboat instead|
And the antidote is to lighten up a little, to back off on the intensity, to relax the body and remember that the point of practice is not to "fix" anything. The point of practice is to learn how to just be, to grow in wisdom and compassion and kindness and that starts with our inner life. Maybe we need to ask ourselves first, "am I kinder to myself than I was 5 years ago, more compassionate, less angry? Because if we can't offer that to ourselves, chances are we can't offer it to anyone else. "Self, are you listening?" "I knew you were."