Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thinking Mind, Grumbling Mind, Embrace Them All

Here is another refining. I have touched up Buddha, adding some more subtle detail, somewhat in the same way that by doing my practice I am refining myself. It is true that we all have Buddha nature and depending on how you like to look at it we can see ourselves as scraping the "gunk" of our karma off our lovely personal self portraits to reveal the our true nature. Here we are energy, having a human experience. And the teaching reminds us that this is a rare and precious occasion. But how often do we (I) really remember that my human life is a rare and precious treat to be savoured and held with reverence?

I have been watching my grumbling mind again (still?). So what else is new? The little faults I find in daily things and people. I see the grumbling and my first inclination is "I don't like it". I resist this aspect of my humaness, my karma. I have a difficult time making friends with it, seeing it as just thoughts. I go immediately to the place of feeling "bad" that I am petty. I heard a talk in an online course called "Awakening Joy", I believe the woman's name was Catherine Ingram, where she talked about standing on the tube platform in London's underground and thinking: "I could just push that person over there onto the rail line." She said that doesn't make me a bad person. It is just a thought.

And my Zen teacher has pointed out, it is what we do with that thought that is important. If we have an angry thought, do we act on it? Or do we simply feel the internal power of that anger, its energy and watch it pass (however long that takes). It is our response that we are working with. Thoughts and emotions arise. Do we react (without care) or respond (by considering the bigger picture)?

Our future karma depends on this. Do we strengthen those inclinations of anger and me, me, me? Do we build the neural pathways that lead to similar future reactions? Or do we work to resist and restrain ourselves from following "unwholesome" paths of action? These are the questions of the day, of the weekend for me? This is the cutting edge of practice.

So if I am mindful I remember to be compassionate toward myself, instead of judgmental. I can look at the suffering that this little scenario has caused for me and see that it is the suffering that leads to the end of suffering. If I had acted on every little negative thought, this would be the suffering that leads to more suffering! And experience tells me that this is not the way to go. So here I am finding polishing the family heirlooms (the human family!).

1 comment:

  1. Your first paragraph intrigues me. Do you ever feel that as you work on your paintings, refining and so on, that you're refining your nervous system? Scraping away the karma (as you wrote) to eventually reveal your eternal Self? Do you feel that deep connection, as with meditation, when you work? Just curious. Your process is intriguing.