I will bring myself to the cushion, not because I want to be enlightened.
Yesterday, I might have been thinking like this.
Yesterday, I might have unintentionally brought goals with me to my meditation seat, memories of learning from a place of love and light, compassion and bodhicitta, soaking in this glory under so many bright, holy suns.
Maybe the memories go even further back, into a consciousness that leaves its imprints even as I can’t reach for their source.
Today, there is fear. There is the temptation to find solutions to problems my mind doesn’t know how to handle. Confusion enters, reigns, dominates.
This is what fear does, it spirals and expands and makes me desperate to climb out, but instead the terror creeps slowly out from the cover of dark and makes its way slowly around the world’s every crevice.
There is fear all over; I fear the world is baking and burning in fear. I am enjoined, too; the darkness and terror envelops me and originates in me too.
Acts of hatred, of violence and hostility—I shake all over, not comprehending. There is a great danger in this confusion. I fear being a mirror on all sides, exponentially growing my confusion as I spread it out far and wide to everything I come in contact with.
My mind will spin from here to the end of time if I let it. It does this well.
Sadness emerges through the fear, a bottomless ache that I know lives underneath fear because I have unearthed these layers before.
Feeling sadness brings me one small step closer to myself.
In fear, I run away. In sadness, I can allow a certain stillness.
So I sit, not to erase being sad and afraid, not to jump right over them to the unparalleled post-thought clarity I might have been seeking yesterday.
Today, I need to sit on my cushion and not think about fear and destruction, but see them. See them not as images and thoughts, but as unease written all over my body.
I need to do this as I breathe in, breathe out, letting my breath remind me of my physical presence, my map of all I have been and all we have come to; and also of the heartbeat that connects to the living organism all around me, because this being is expansive and bathes us even when we forget, and doesn’t seek destruction.
I will meditate because I want to embody and reflect peace, not fear when I go outside today, and because the path of the warrior, of the gentle, compassionate activist begins with an ability to be quietly, fully present with the self.
Today, I will meditate not to get me somewhere else, but to get back here to start from where I am, to caress the wounds by observing them, watching them change, and anchoring myself in a breath that is specific and grounding and also shared with every other being.
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness—life’s painful aspect—softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose—you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Tammy Stone
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Courtesy of Author, Deviant Art