leaning into the sharp points

I posted this on my Facebook notes and a friend asked me if  I had a blog, or just wrote to FB. It’s not like I haven’t thought of it before: I’m always spreading my written seeds wherever they may fall. Cocktail napkins, my journal, Facebook, this blog…they’re all equal candidates in my book but I have thought about trying to condense all of it before. So here goes! I posted this to FB last night.

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leaning into the sharp points

I am reading Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart.” It is a book of Buddhist wisdom,written in a style that is both light and penetrating, but gently so. Although I’m not finished, I already am getting a few points that Chodron is sharing, like “lean into the sharp points.” Basically this means, when we encounter confusion, disappointment, anger, sadness, when we encounter something that would originally
make us act out or run for the hills, go towards it, lean in. It is leaning into these difficult spaces and places that we learn about ourselves, who we are, how we act, how we think, and where we are in our spiritual and emotional development.

Here is a passage from the book that stood out to me and I’d like to share it here.

From p. 21

Sometimes we feel guilty, sometimes arrogant. Sometimes our thoughts and memories terrify us and make us feel totally miserable. Thoughts go through our minds all the time, and when we sit [in meditation], we are providing a lot of space for all of them to arise. Like clouds in a big sky or waves in a vast sea, all our thoughts are given the space to appear. If one hangs on and sweeps us away, whether we call it pleasant or unpleasant, the instruction is to label it all “thinking” with as much openness and kindness as we can muster and let it dissolve back into the big sky. When the clouds and waves immediately return, it’s no problem. We just acknowledge them again and again with unconditional friendliness, labeling them as just “thinking” and letting them go again and again and again.

I relate to this very much right now, as in the week past I had a lot of thoughts. All kinds of thoughts. Confusion, sadness, heartache, worry, fear. I also observed in others their reactions to their own worry/fear/confusion. The result was pulling back, rejecting, and closing up all around. I felt sad on top of sad for the closing of something that had just begun to open, but now with some distance and time, I have accepted this as the moment now. Sometimes it aches just a bit, but what can I do? What can any of us do? We might try to say “oh, it’s not that important” and “act strong,” showing that we have “better things to do” or be concerned with, when that thing we are trying to ignore, push away, or forget gets proportionately bigger in relation to how much we try to reject it.

So be consoled and let everything be sweet even when you feel sour or bitter. Just accept it and let it go as a thought that is ephemeral, just as our feelings are ephemeral, as our most cherished relationships are ephemeral, as our lives are ephemeral.

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~ by Lola on April 16, 2009.

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