“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love
Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind. Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.
*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd
“When the air is hot and humid, there is a feeing of dullness and stagnation. Everyone is oppressed by lassitude. As the seasons begin changing, fresh air comes from the arctic. Clouds that have been building up begin to dispense rain, and damp air is exchanged for fresh, cool breezes. At night, the heavens are changing so quickly that lightning flashes from colliding clouds, and thunder heralds the revolving of the skies.
The same is true of human life. If the heavens cannot endure stagnation for long, how can stagnation last with us? If we find ourselves blocked and frustrated in life, we must look for the inevitable outlet. Nothing is permanent, so how can our obstacles last? We need to look for the first opportunity to set things moving again.
On the other hand, sometimes stagnation comes from our own laziness or incompetence. In this case, then it is we who must show initiative and stimulate a breakthrough in dull circumstances. As soon as we see a chance, we must act. Unless we engage ourselves and events fully, we cannot expect to act sufficiently.”
It can be the easiest thing in the world to follow the aspect of our personality that is logical and rational. It is easy because it is the side that is protective and guarded. The rational mind means well, but often times it prevents us from the abundance our spirit yearns to experience. This emperor like energy can prevent us from taking advantage of the opportunities that life brings our way. It is that overbearing voice criticising every last hope and ambition that rises up with each swelling of the heart. Eliminating every last shred of intuition. The one reason for that is doubt.
Tame the mind and start believing in yourself. If conformity is no longer serving your life; let it go. Find out what your blind spots are and make more room in your life for imagination. You might just surprise yourself. It takes a lot to step out in faith, trusting the goodness in yourself. Keeping an open heart. You just might discover that your heart isn’t inside of you, but that you’re inside your heart. Deng Ming-Dao says, “Imagination is a tool through which we can make our lives better, different, and creative. By cooperating with it, we can acheive things that ‘we never dreamed possible’.” Imagination can build bridges. Connect your life with love.
“There is a very Simple Secret to being happy. Just let go of your ‘demand’ on this moment. Any time you have a demand on the moment to give you something or remove something, there is suffering. You’re Arguing with ‘What Is’ – Your demands keep you chained to the ‘dream-state’ of the conditioned mind. The desire to ‘control’… is, ultimately, our unwillingness to just be awake.”
“Spiritual awakening happens when you stop bullshitting yourself into continual non-awakening. It’s very easy to use disciplines to avoid reality rather than to encounter it. A true spirituality will have you continually facing your illusions and all the ways you avoid reality. Spiritual practice may be an important means of confronting yourself, or it may be a means of avoiding yourself; it all depends on your attitude and intention.”