Today, I choose to shift my focus from resentment toward forgiveness. I recognise that forgiveness is a gift I give to myself. It is an opportunity for me to release the energy that holds me hostage, and distracts me from growth. As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others.
Each moment is an opportunity for me to release a limiting belief or fear, and to forgive myself for holding me back from experiencing the full potential of that moment in the past.
I know that my experiences are the result of my thoughts. And without a need for blame, I recognise that there are times my thoughts take a less productive turn. And that’s alright, because it’s part of the experience of learning. But I also realise that I am free to choose new thoughts.
And so today, I choose thoughts which free me from the decisions of my past… which bring new possibilities and reinvigorate my journey, rather than distracting me from it.
I let go of resentment I have felt toward those who have let me down. I release the need to punish those who have hurt me. I know they were doing the best they could, and their mediocrity and lack of commitment is their business… their lesson to learn… not mine.
I am limited only by the barriers I create in consciousness. And so I release those barriers now, and recognise my essential nature as Pure Awareness.
Today, I allow ease and compassion to guide my thoughts and energise my actions. I celebrate the limitless potential that exists in the present moment, and choose to mindfully turn my awareness to that moment… to live from that place alone… which is the source of my power and potential.
I forgive myself and others effortlessly, and let go of the old stories that held me captive.
The wisdom of the Buddha points out that holding onto anger is like holding onto hot coals, but hoping that the other person is the one who feels the pain. It’s like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die from it. And so it’s time for me to let go of these foolish endeavors and resentments.
I’ve allowed another to hold the pen that was writing my story. Today, I choose to write a NEW STORY, in my own hand…
And as that story unfolds the joy and abundance that are my birthright begins to express in every experience… every turn.
Forgiveness comes easy and release gently follows.
On the Formal Practice, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche writes:
You can experience that dreamlike quality by relating with sitting meditation practice. When you are reflecting on the breath, suddenly discursive thoughts begin to arise; you begin to see things, to hear things, and to feel things. But all those perceptions are none other than your own mental creation. In the same way, you can see that your hate for your enemy, your love for your friends, and your attitude toward money, food, and wealth are all part of discursive thought.
In Buddhism, we recognise that this aggregate of systems and senses we imagine is our “self” is merely an illusion. One of the principal benefits of this practice is that it restores a sort of gentleness… a soft, comforting reminder of what our True Nature, which is Consciousness, or Śunyata, or Love, or if you prefer the primitive metaphors, God(dess), etc., already knows. It’s about the process of rediscovering truths that we already possess, which might have been obscured by the dreamlike state.
Everything that appears in your experience is a manifestation of your mind. And it is also a reflection of something within you that needs your attention.
While we dream, the events in our dreams seem really to be happening: we find ourselves in another location, conversations takes place, we experience pain or pleasure, fear or calm. Anything can happen in your dreams. All the appearances are there. But despite these appearances, no such events have really occurred while you slept. And so it is with what we imagine to be our “waking state”, which is but another level of dream-consciousness.
The first instruction is very simple, yet profound. We should not lay the blame for anything on others. Now, as simple as it sounds, I know that there will be, for many of my readers, a momentary rolling of the eyes, because this sounds rather absurd on the surface. After all, if someone attacks us on the street, why would we not say that they were to blame?
We must recognise that every experience begins in our minds. And if that is true, and if our perception of this “self”, which is really nothing more than an aggregate of senses and systems, then it is also true that we are responsible for bringing forth the misery in samsara from beginning was time. To the degree that we continue this self-cherishing, self-cleaning attitude we will experience suffering and harm in this lifetime.
Now it’s also very important, to understand that we don’t mean instead of blaming other people, we blame ourselves. Our objective, is to take a closer look at what blame feels like altogether, and then to guard ourselves against the temptation to engage in that hurtful, meaningless, and immature practice.
When you really think about it, it takes so much energy to place blame. I believe that most occurrences of placing blame have their roots in fear. When we are afraid that someone is taking something from us, doing something that will hurt us, making us look less important, less honorable, less “good”, then the ego self, begins the process of pointing fingers.
The very moment that we begin to take 100% responsibility, when we begin to say, “I have chosen this experience, these are the seeds I planted, and now I am reaping the crop at harvest time,”everything changes. When we realise that the ordinary mind throws responsibility on someone else, and that the perception of the other is an illusion, we return to the point of power within ourselves. Pure Awareness.
I like to end this section of the commentary by sharing something Albert Einstein wrote, which might have just as easily been written by a great Dharma master:
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
Nothing exists independently of consciousness or mental designation, therefore it becomes easier, and in fact, essential, that we release the need to place blame.
On this ninth day of the new year, we commemorate the birth, according to the Taoist tradition, of the Jade Emperor, Yu-huang Shang-ti, who is said to be the Supreme Ruler of the Cosmos.
The Taoist mythos does not embrace the kind of mythological “creator gods”, such as YHVH from the Abrahamic tradition, but instead sees the Supreme Ruler of the Cosmos as an anthropomorphic representation of the compassion, right action and mindfulness with which balance and awakening is achieved, to which we should all aspire. Our understanding of the “creation” is that the universe came into existence from the union of matter (Ki) and movement (Li) which, according to the principle of yin and yang, infinitely alternate to produce the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth.
This is the time of year, where humanity experiences the transformative power, when light and darkness meet and become unified, leading up to what my teachers called, “The Twelve Nights of Transformation”.
Understanding the Two Witnesses is a term that might be new to some of you, which I first encountered in the study of the Seven-Pointed Mind Training.
In any given situation, there are always what we call “two witnesses”, or as I prefer, “two perspectives”: the perspective others have of you, and your own perspective of yourself.
Your principle witness is always your own insight.
What others think of you is irrelevant and none of your business.
Instead, start watching your thoughts, desires, dreams, motivations and agendas. Create a new kind of awareness within yourself. Become a Silent Centre, which goes on watching whatever is happening.
If you become angry, you simply watch it. Suddenly, you are no longer just angry… a new element has been introduced into the equation: you are watching it. And the miracle is that if you can watch that anger, the anger disappears without being repressed.
We call this witnessing the witness itself.
From this place of deeper awareness, we can begin to quiet the mind, and return to a place where we exist as Pure Awareness. In this deep state of awareness, the external world dissolves and the monkey mind of the ego ceases to be.
You realise that truth… the Dharma… is not something outside of you, waiting to be discovered. It’s something within you, to be awakened.
I like how Noah Levine puts it, when he says:
“Waking up is not a selfish pursuit of happiness, it is a revolutionary stance, from the inside out, for the benefit of all beings in existence.”
Dogen Zenji, founder of the Soto School of Buddhism, reminds us that a flower withers and dies, even though we love it; while a weed grows, even though we consider it unwanted. So why do we struggle to control those things which ultimately are beyond our control?
Take time today to worry less about those things beyond your control. If you are in pain, allow yourself to just “be” with that pain. Notice that it isn’t always unbearable. At times, it subsides, and at others, it becomes quite intense. But it won’t last forever. Nothing ever does.
When I find myself in pain, such as this morning, when I’ve crushed a tooth due to clenching my teeth, (a symptom of the Parkinson’s Dis-ease), or when this herniated disc, which the doctor believes may have blown, makes it unbearable to stand or walk, I don’t try to escape the pain. I just try to remind myself that I can choose to consume this pain, and use it as fuel, or allow it to consume me. I choose to be the victor, not the victim.
At this moment, the circumstances of having had to extricate ourselves from a toxic situation recently, has taken a personal, emotional and financial toll on us temporarily. Why do we struggle to let go of the concerns that temporarily cause us physical pain, or financial stress? Getting worried, stressed or angry about it won’t change things.
Have you ever noticed any time someone mentions that they are in pain, some folks immediately feel compelled to express how much pain they are in, as if you were somehow taking away the attention they’re starved for?
Whenever that happens, I immediately ask myself what that is reflecting from my consciousness? When do I feel like someone is stealing the attention I imagine myself to need?
Perhaps I need to forgive myself for all those times when I felt the need for validation, sympathy, attention or praise. When I return my awareness to the five-fold mantra, “I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you, and Namasté.”
I change the cosmos, because I change my relationship to it.
Be gentle with yourselves, and know that you are appreciated and loved.
Before the butterfly can emerge into this world, it must endure what I would imagine could be an agonising period of contraction and constriction as a chrysalis. It is a common misconception that the butterfly pupa lives within a cocoon, but in fact, the chrysalis does not emerge from a cocoon at all. It’s hard, constricted, shell-like exterior is all part of the chrysalis itself.
Life can seem, at times, like it is constricting, even contracting all around us. Perhaps our relationships, our work, the world around us seem like they are in shambles, crumbling in on all sides. We might even imagine that we’ve lost our sense of spiritual practice and inner compass.
I can clearly recall sitting in the temple, at Sarvodaya – Jaya Aśram, on that Friday night last year, staring in complete disbelief at the computer screen, at the words announcing the sad news that my Root Guru entered Mahasamadhi, and left her physical body. My chest felt tight… my stomach felt like someone kicked me repeatedly in it… and the night seemed especially dark, rainy and cold. I remember at one point stabbing the phurba deep into the earth, crying out, “MA!”
As I write this, a couple days short of the one year anniversary of Tenzin Yangchen Ma‘s passing, the tears again flow… the chest tightens… and the knot returns to the stomach.
At times like these, we can only return to the breath, remembering that we are Pure Awareness. There, in the moment, there is no separation. There is contraction… at times, constriction… there is emptiness… groundlessness… but there is also Primordial Compassion — the pure Essence of the Mother Herself.
And just as the chrysalis is nourished, struggles through the pains of its personal transformation, and eventually breaks free to reveal its beauty, and to live out its true purpose as a butterfly, so too do we emerge from these periods of contraction and constriction, darkness and despair… stronger, more vibrant, more beautiful and more aware of our true purpose.
Speaking on this path… the lion’s path of transformation… Ma would write:
When you begin to analyse your life and you begin to ask the question “Who am I,” you realise that you are not bound within the limits of a mind and the senses. When you realise this, you transcend unhappiness.
Unhappiness is nothing but the perception of a certain limitation within your own being.
Go beyond yourselves, my chelas.
Feel the essence of your innermost spirit.
Feel the Guru in this place.
Ramana Maharshi is and was one of the greatest teachers of His time. Our Baba and Our Swami had and have the greatest respect.
He is also one of your Guru-ji’s teachers.
“Why,” I asked this great man, “do you want so many to ask the question WHO AM I?
He answered me in this way:
“Some thoughts die from meditation.
Some thoughts die from japa.
Some thoughts die from karma yoga.
Yet all thoughts die from this wonderful inquiry.”
“Be a lion, Ma,” He said, “when you teach your children – and teach them to be of the lion lineage.
Let them ask from the depth of their souls who they are.”
And so, no matter how heavy my heart feels today… no matter how much every breath reminds me how much I miss her… I embrace this contraction for whatever time it fills the moment, knowing that this chrysalis will again emerge as a butterfly.
Jai, jai, jai Śri Mata Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Santa Maharajni. Ki Jai!
Healing is a natural aspect of transformation. But healing cannot begin in the hands of the unhealed healer. Upon recognising the presence of the unhealed healer in ourselves, we must begin within.
When we experience someone who is ill, or who has undergone surgery or some other difficult emotional or physiological circumstance, we recognise that our experience of their condition is an opportunity for us to heal something within our own minds.
The wheezing, hacking cough of the co-worker, may be an opportunity to realise there is something we need “to get off our chest”. The emergency heart surgery of a loved one, may represent unforgiven hurts that we’re afraid to let go of. That pain our neighbour feels in her back, may be a reminder of a burden we’re carrying, that’s weighing us down.
This isn’t to say those persons are experiencing their conditions because of us. Their conditions are, for them, an opportunity for them to heal something in their own lives.
My experience of Parkinson’s Disease may be a feeling that I am constricted by rigid and inflexible circumstances, beyond my immediate control. A weakened immune system may reflect that I feel like I have lost my ability to “fight back” in the face of injustice or lazy dharma practitioners. Even the thyroid condition I experience could be a need to address the feeling of complete imbalance in my present experience of life, and the toll I imagine those circumstances to be taking on me.
When we come to understand that all of these beliefs arise from the chaotic data, playing on the hard drive of our subconscious mind… that they are, in essence, bullshit… healing spontaneously occurs.
And so we don’t focus on healing another. For pretending to be able to do so is little more than an ego trip. All healing can only occur within.
What’s more, there’s really nothing to “heal”… it’s just a matter of forgiving ourselves, and returning to the present moment.
In the Digha Nikaya, we read the Muni’s advice concerning how we should care for our parents, when they become old and infirm:
“Once I was supported by them; now I will be their support. I will perform the duties they performed and maintain the family and its traditions. I will preserve my inheritance, and make myself worthy of my lineage.”
The admonishment above, from the thirty-first line of the text, is clear. Our responsibility and debt to our parents never ceases. It only increases, and with it, the profound understanding and gratitude we feel for what they have provided for us in this precious incarnation.
One of the casualties of this tendency we have to turn the Dharma into an “ism” (i.e., Buddhism), is that the arts and sciences that make up the Dharma often become homogenised into some sort of “religious doctrine”, stripping away all of the freedom and value the practice once had.
Mindfulness is the art and science of bringing our awareness to the moment. It is the practice of experiencing our True Nature, as Pure Awareness.
The Buddha Śakyamuni is said to have advocated the practice of mindfulness in one’s daily activities, as a means of grounding oneself in the calm awareness of the transitory and impermanent nature of all phenomena, one of the key facets of the path to awakening.
But you see, that’s just it… he didn’t say we need to “believe something about mindfulness”. He didn’t even find it necessary to define mindfulness. He simply said we should practice it.
And that’s where the religion of Buddhism fails in a postmodern world.