On Monday, Marie will facilitate, and she shares:
Last week, Mick chose a topic that resonated with many of us: the practice of coming home. We had a lively discussion about what helps us to come home to our true nature, to be our "Buddha selves", and, conversely, what draws us away? Several people shared their "habit energies" that draw them away from being their Buddha selves and described how, at this time of year, it can be even harder to practice.
This week, we will build on this discussion and ask ourselves the questions:
How do we practice when practicing is hard and, specifically, what do we do?
Returning to one of the passages that Mick shared is helpful. In The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay describes the five "Skandhas", the elements that we are made of:
Each one of us is sovereign over the territory of our own being and the five elements we are made of. These elements are form (body), feelings, mental formations, perceptions, and consciousness. Our practice is to look deeply into these five elements and to discover the true nature of our being...
Each of these elements represents an opportunity to come home as well as an invitation to run away. Depending on what is going on in one's life, we might perceive some elements as a touchstone and others, as a trigger. Increasing our awareness of the elements and how we relate to them can be useful and can pave the way for what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to as "selective seed watering" (excerpt taken from Touching Peace).
According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into two parts, like a house with two floors. On the ground floor there is a living room, and we call this "mind consciousness." Below the ground level, there is a basement, and we call this "store consciousness." In the store consciousness, everything we have ever done, experienced, or perceived is stored in the form of a seed; our store consciousness holds all of our seeds - seeds of suffering, happiness, joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and hope. When a seed manifests in our mind consciousness, it always returns to the storehouse stronger...
The quality of our life depends on the quality of the seeds in our store consciousness. We may be in the habit of manifesting seeds of anger, sorrow, and fear in our mind consciousness; seeds of joy, happiness, and peace may not sprout up much. To practice mindfulness means to recognize each seed as it comes up from the storehouse and to practice watering the most wholesome seeds whenever possible, to help them grow stronger. During each moment that we are aware of something peaceful and beautiful, we water seeds of peace and beauty in us, and beautiful flowers bloom in our consciousness. The length of time we water a seed determines the strength of that seed. For example, if we stand in front of a tree, breathe consciously, and enjoy it for five minutes, seeds of happiness will be watered in us for five minutes, and those seeds will grow stronger. During the same five minutes, other seeds, like fear and pain, will not be watered... If we water our wholesome seeds carefully, we can trust that our store consciousness will do the work of healing.
The practice of selective seed watering has helped me enormously. Yet, I can still find it difficult to do. Why? Because I have other priorities. The challenge of creating space for that which nourishes us is an age old challenge and was a theme in our discussion last week. For those looking for inspiration and ammunition, I invite you to read this article.
I hope you will join us on Monday night.