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Grounded in Acceptance

July 19, 2015 2 Comments

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Yoga and meditation are designed to focus the mind and keep it focused when distraction happens.  The very nature of being alive involves change and the unknown.  We may have habits and patterns, but we have no way to predict what is just around the next bend.  Our futures collide with destiny and fortune to become our realities.  Much unnecessary stress is created by attempting to control too much.  We can educate and improve our minds, train and feed our bodies with the best nutrition, and stay within strict guidelines for safety and still meet with disaster.  It may also be true that through no real effort of our own we may be lucky, blessed, and well loved.  If we ascribe good and bad labels to each of our experiences we may find that what seemed the best at the time was a prelude to downfall, and vice versa.  We are not 100% in charge of our fates.

Dependent arising is the awareness that desire and fear are driving forces in human evolution. These strong emotional forces dominate our thinking, leading to suffering.  The Buddha became enlightened while sitting under a tree eating sweets. His realization liberated him from all his previous desires and fears.  He taught his followers saying:

“Whoever sees Dependent Arising sees the Dhamma.

Whoever sees Dhamma sees Dependent Arising”

This essential teaching of the Buddha explains how one thing leads to another when the untamed mind is permitted to ramble.  Dependent arising is cause and effect.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  I think it also explains how we create suffering for ourselves and others by refusing to accept things as they are.  If we start by accepting ourselves as we are we can extend that good feeling to others.  Once we can stay grounded in a practice of acceptance we develop the power to change.  Certain traits are present in a soul still striving to control rather than accept:

  • Perfectionist and hyper-critical demeanor
  • Either too demanding or unable to stand up for one’s self
  • Codependence in relationships and with substances
  • Self doubt
  • Inability to complete plans

To live happy free lives we must find acceptance for ourselves as well as others.  We must see that we are dependent on all of our ancestors and everyone alive who contributes to our well being.  Nobody exists without a great deal of help from others, many who will remain anonymous.  The worldwide supply chain now means we depend on folks in distant lands to make our goods and provide our services.  When Amazon delivers a package to your door hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people have been involved in making and delivering what you want.  To create a world with more compassion and less violence and terror each of us can start where we are to accept ourselves the way we are.  By reaching a state of self compassion we can light the way for others still struggling to find acceptance.

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On the 20th of each month bloggers join to speak up for compassion.  Click here to visit more posts on acceptance or add your own.

“1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, join our Facebook Group, like our Facebook Page, or look for our posts on Twitter with the hashtag #1000Speak.”

 

A Practice of Patience

June 19, 2015 9 Comments

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

Some very good examples were set for me early in life by teachers in school.  My high school choir director extended  great praise and patience to all his students.  When you think about how awful a chorus of high schoolers can sound …..most of the time, this man was a true saint to struggle through each number until we finally could sing it.  He loved music, and was still willing to hear it massacred year after year, day after day. He was generally good natured, and very dapper in his fashion.  He was by far the best dressed teacher we had at our school, and seemed to be the most sophisticated somehow. He was generally fun and upbeat, but insisted on discipline in class.  When he was upset with us he would say “Frank, C., Elephant, Coulter never forgets an infraction.”  His stern delivery of that line was always enough to handle any issue.  We never actually witnessed the elephant bring up past offenses.  He worked to make our roles in the choir a constant source of pride and mutual understanding.  He taught us all the value of practice, precision and harmony.  He was a living example of patience as virtue.

As an adult I have been very fortunate to study in person with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet.  He came to Tucson in September 1993 for a teaching on patience.  That was my first introduction to the meditation practices of Tibetan Buddhism, which are complicated to say the least.  I studied for a year previous to his visit to get some background and study under my belt before he arrived.  He covered a lot of material and empowered us to Green Tara, all of which was new to me.  The crash course was not intended to convey the entire teaching in a few days, but to instill the value of practice.   Like my high school choir director, His Holiness teaches all kinds of people who have no previous experience or ability to meditate.  He teaches each person and group from scratch, using the ancient texts on the Bodhisattva’s way of life.  He reaches each mind according to the readiness of the student to comprehend. One question he took from an audience member was about the best way to begin a personal meditation practice.  His answer was simple. He told her, “Be nice.”

Since 1993 I have made efforts to be nice, and have recognized that it is easier said than done. To transform anger into patience is the ultimate practice.  If anger has no hold on your mind you are free.  If what bothers you about people and life can be surmounted by a practice of patience in all things, you have reached Nirvana.  This teaching, so pure, simple and true, provides a lifetime of practice.  He taught us that the folks in your life who make you angry also teach you patience.  They provide a special gift without which we could not become enlightened.  Nipping anger in the bud, transforming it into patience, is compassion in action.  Anger may be a natural sentiment, but it is helpful to nobody, least of all to the person who harbors it.  Compassion is a conscious choice, starting with one’s own inner demeanor.

 

Each month on the 20th a round of compassion is raised here.  Please join #1000Speak to add your voice to the choir.

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