Someone sent me this youtube audio clip this morning. And the person asked my opinion about it. Below is my response and a few additional comments interspersed here and there.
The practices Pema speaks about are based on the idea of an awakened heart. And I don’t necessarily disagree that one’s heart can awaken but I think it creates more problems for someone like myself. For me it is better to just be me than an awakened me for titles seem to rob me of an opportunity to learn and grow. The titles of awakened or enlightened have never fit my life. Just like practices don’t seem to fit the nuance that living is for me.
I am familiar with Pema’s books and her practices. For myself I am not a fan of any formal practice it does not work for the way I’m wired. The system I have access to doesn’t work in that way necessarily but I do see how some people could benefit from practices like tonglen.
I feel the heartbreak of many things and in some almost imperceptible way I’m sure I do just what is described, but less formally.
I also have an idea that these books are written for people that still believe “waking up” should be easy and eventually lead us all to more pleasant states of being. And yet I do like that Pema doesn’t fool the reader with lofty ideas of eternal bliss, but still she is selling books and a persona to our western culture. And we American consumers love catch phrases, spiritual monikers of accomplishment and of course a list of things to do in order to enhance ourselves. We all feel that if we get the list of our day accomplished that we will get what we want. I know lots of people that love routine and I don’t necessarily share their zeal for that familiarity but I do see that it could be helpful to people that are not like me.
I remember long ago imagining myself in an ashram with all my tattoos and a maroon and gold robe with my head shaved but luckily I woke up from that idea, and realized that the desire to be holy or special was filled with much delusion about what I thought this was all about.
I want to make this world a better place and to allow myself to feel it all is my practice. I have an intention to help and love in the most honest way possible but how I do it seems spontaneous and sincere in the moment. Whenever I have tried to create an experience it seems I miss the mark of said desire, so I have stopped thinking of an outcome even though at times I know that I desire something to go a certain way.
I guess what I’m saying is — I trust blindly in what is happening and that doesn’t feel secure or good but it is true for me now. At times the pain is too much and I just want to get off the ride of my life but somehow with patience and gentleness I find the ability to stay with it and feel it all. And with time insight into what the resistance was all about is revealed and there I find myself able to serve in the most minuscule way.
I have never been one with great access to large numbers of people or even been seen as someone that could know things like a guru so I see that it happens for me in very small ways. Conversation, fatherhood, writing or making art is all that this job that I have found is for me so far.
I can’t find that my life extends very far from my circle but I trust that these small events are contributing to something bigger than myself and I’m grateful for that.
So I just feel and really express as honestly as possible what it is to be me and the rest I hope is resolved in some way or maybe not…
The amount of humility I feel in my life on a daily basis is not a diminishment of myself but an honesty to what is right here in front of me.
Everyday I am given the chance to love and tell the truth and I do my best with that, and the rest is not mine but ours it seems.