On Monday, Marie will facilitate.
Over the last few weeks, I've had an opportunity to practice surrendering - a lot. I had shoulder surgery, and, in order to maximize healing, I'm not using my left arm for three months.
I am fortunate. My family and friends have lovingly supported me in a myriad of ways; I have no reason to do anything "useful". Despite the invitation/admonition to surrender, parts of me have rebelled. The deeper I looked, the more I learned about myself - including my ego and my practice. A dear friend came to visit and brought me a wonderful, and wonderfully timely book by Anam Thubten, No Self, No Problem. In this book, Anam Thubten illuminates the path of going beyond the misconceptions of the ego to experience the reality of our true nature, which is already enlightened.
"Each of us has a strong desire to live a life free from all unwanted conditions: illness, misfortune, old age, and death. As long as we are living in this human form it is impossible to have a life that is completely free from the conditions that we don't want: old age, illness, and other kinds of problems...
This primal desire for perfect conditions is a complex mixture of our instinctual impulse for physical comfort and our unconscious drive to be free from anything that even remotely reminds us of our fragility and mortality. As a result each of us constantly fantasizes about having an utterly perfect existence. We want to be in a paradise, in a heaven free from every circumstance we don't want to face. In all of human history, no one has actualized that kind of a life. Still we maintain and feed this childish fantasy that if we fight hard enough against reality, then sooner or later we will achieve this idealized life, free from all unwanted conditions and situations. Some of us work very hard fighting against reality.
In the same way, when we think that we have conflicts and hindrances, most of the time we can never actually find out where these conflicts and hindrances are. That's because they are only found lingering in our consciousness. Our consciousness is like a factory where we create all kinds of imaginary problems. It is a big factory. People always suffer either consciously or unconsciously because they mistakenly believe that if they fight against reality then they will be able to achieve their fantasies...
So now the question is, how are we supposed to deal with the outer conditions of everyday life? The answer is: acceptance. We have to learn how to accept what is... As the great Tibetan saint Patul Rinpoche said,
"When your belly is full and the sun is shining upon you, you act like a holy person. But when negativities befall you, then you act very ordinary." When things are going in the opposite direction (from what we want), it is very hard to accept what is. The spiritual precept, the discipline that we have to try to maintain in our heart in all situations, is learning how to stay open in each moment. When we are not ready to accept, we are completely under the jurisdiction of ego, and we don't accept anything...
Ego is the problem. Sometimes ego is very spoiled, like a child who is constantly throwing tantrums. Sometimes ego doesn't accept where we are. Sometimes ego doesn't accept who we are... So what do we do? All we can do is accept that and learn how to surrender to the flow of all events. When we accept the way things are, we are able to love everything and everybody... Lack of acceptance is conflict. Conflict is pain... It is spiritual illness. As long as our hearts are tormented by that pain, we do not have the strength to give our heart to anything, and because of that, it is impossible to bring about inner awakening... Enlightenment, you see, is just another name for boundless love.
Buddha taught that everything is emptiness. Problems of life, even though they appear unending and recurring, are emptiness... What is the true method of purification? The method of effortlessness.
True meditation is nothing but the art of abiding, without effort, where you don't try to get rid of anything. If you leave your mind as it is, you will see that nothing can bind you. In that awareness of non-doing, your thoughts are like ripples and your basic consciousness is like the ocean....
According to the path of effortlessness, don't attach to any of the positive thoughts and don't try to remove or transform the negative thoughts. Observe and watch them without being changed, just like you watch the waves rising and going back to the water. They all dissolved. Negativity dissolves and suffering dissolves if you can do that. This is a more subtle form of acceptance. This is called the way of abiding."
Over the next few days, notice how you respond to different conditions - to what extent do you accept what is? When is it easier to "abide" and what helps that to happen? How has this changed over time, and where are your "edges" - the sticking points where you resist and are in conflict with what is? How has your practice changed the way that you relate to what is?
I hope you will join us.