Friday, December 30, 2016

Siddhearta's Essence of 2016.

2016 was a great year (or a terrible one, if you choose to see it through the media lens).   

Writing this blog has been a challenge this year.  I wrote a lot this year for other projects and I would say that I shared more this year than ever before.  But what I share here is different.  It has a different tone.  It is often me speaking to me, sharing something that needs to be shared.  Most of what I share here doesn't come from me sitting down to write, it comes in a flurry, in a flash.  It slips in between the gaps, into my dreams or just comes from the heart.  It often feels more like catching than writing, and I need to do a better job of being open and listening so that I can catch those messages. 

Of course this is also why I write.  There is an element of revelation and liberation.  We see truth, but we also see hindrances and problems.  The practice is to carry both as the path, to use both so that we can eliminate our own obscurations and ignorance in order to awaken our hearts and minds.  

I appreciate your support and encouragement over this past year.  Thank you for your dedication to your own practice and having the courage to carry it into your daily life.

Here is an overview of some of the top posts in 2016, in no particular order.

This might be your chance.
Householder tradition. 
What do we leave for posterity?
Our biggest challenge. 
The slippery slope of self-compassion. 
The truth of suffering. 
Only so much room. 
A better version of yourself.
The path from here to there. 
First, tumult. 
Throw back the fish. 
Willing to go. 
The world is deceitful.  
Overwhelm challenges.   

I wish you all a great New Year!
May you enjoy health and a peaceful mind!
May you focus on your practice,
generously share love and kindness,
and may you accomplish the aims for yourself and others!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bigger than that.

Be bigger than what you are going through.

You can accommodate this situation you find yourself in.  You can remain open to it.  You are able to listen, to bear its weight.  You can stand the gravity of these conditions.

If your mind cannot be bigger than the situation you will be crushed and overwhelmed.  It will be too much.  You won't be able to tolerate what you are going through.  You won't accept it and won't be willing to participate.  I can't get involved, I can't do this. 

This is easy to judge for yourself.  Just look at your mind, your reaction.  Look at how you respond.

The way to a bigger mind is compassion.  It starts with your concern being bigger than yourself.  Broaden your horizon.

The end is an open, expansive mind that is able to accommodate anything, like space.  Overwhelm situations through complete and utter openness, and everything is carried as the path. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

A mind divided.

Man is often divided unto himself. 

He seeks out leisure, but must act on his responsibilities.  He pursues his passion, but must be held accountable.  He follows his curiosity, but must produce results. 

There is tension between these two, leisure and responsibility.  Constant opposition and internal struggle.  Struggle to find your place in the world, the enduring battle between what you want to do versus what we have to do. 

The one requires space, silence, idleness, even solitude.

The other demands interaction, checklists, deadlines and diligence.

How do we dissolve the barrier between these two?  Can we cross the chasm over this great divide?  How do we reconcile this internal struggle? 

Lend your leisure to virtue.  Rely on virtue for your responsibilities. 

Virtuous is the pursuit of knowledge, patience and kindness.  The virtues of generosity and wisdom bear fruit in both leisure and responsibility.  Silence, mindfulness, and fortitude, these too are fertile ground for both leisure and responsibility. 

Virtue removes the struggle from our lives.  It allows us to find our balance, to find reconciliation.  Reconciliation is a gift we can give ourselves, and a gift we can carry into the world. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Working with uncertainty.

You will experience uncertainty on the path.  We can turn and hide from it, or learn to carry it into our practice.   

In the beginning, turn it into a question.  Use it as a marker for curiosity.  Try to resolve it.

In the middle, allow it to refine your practice.  Use it to find the edges and break them down.  Allow it to give rise to dissonance and resistance so you know where to focus your attention.   

In the end, no one has walked this path before.  You are forging an new trail, uncertainty lies just around the next bend.  Keep going. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sitting with uncertainty.

Uncertainty, doubt, hesitation.  

How often are we plagued by these maladies?  How often to they influence our path or lead us astray?  

How often do we find ourselves waiting?  Waiting for the right time, the right conditions.  Waiting to get picked or promoted, or told what to do.    

Uncertainty hides in the shadows of our intention.  When we encounter it, we often step out of our posture, or move for the small reprieve it gives us.  We may try to stay busy, reach for distraction, or entertain the discomfort away just so we can feel normal again.  

In uncertain times we yearn for control.  We wonder about our future, the future of our family and loved ones, the future of our community and world.  We spend sleepless nights caught up in the cycle of hope and fear, playing out dramas of gain and loss, praise and shame.  

But uncertainty really prevents us from moving forward.  Our intention may be strong, but we lack the focus to carry it through.  Our intention may be clear, but we don't feel we have the power to carry it out. 

Sitting with uncertainty may be the most powerful thing you can do. 

Face the resistance.
Don't avert your eyes.
Don't turn from it.
Don't waver.
Just sit. 

Donning the armor of patience,
With the sharp sword of mindfulness,
and all the grit you can muster,
breakthrough to openness, clarity and insight.
Then step forward with generosity, kindness and love.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Nourish and support.

In June 2008, my soon to be wife and I were meditating at Boudhanath early one morning.

It was a beautiful morning.  Sunny, clear skies.  A gentle breeze blowing the prayer flags that were strung up to the peak of the stupa.  There was the steady sound of women doing their daily prostrations.  The familiar chanting of OM MANI PADME HUNG resonated throughout the square.  Incense floated on the breeze.   

It was 6am and the stupa was alive. 

As we were meditating, two elderly Tibetan women came up to us and offered us some unleavened bread and a spoonful of stewed potatoes, all the while reciting their mani mantras. 

It didn't matter if we could have paid something.
It didn't matter if we didn't need the food.
It didn't matter if we weren't even hungry.
It didn't matter what our status, our situation, who we were or if we were doing it right.

They simply offered sustenance to those committed to practice. 

What would our communities look like if we were committed to supporting and nourishing those committed to practice?

What if we dropped all the expectation, all the judgement, all concern for reward, recognition or repayment? 

There is seldom anything as impactful as a genuine human interaction.