In this world, where there are more alarm bells being rung almost everyday by almost everyone almost everywhere you turn, there is a greater and greater desire for that place of tranquility we call serenity. With our minds going constantly and a vigilance we feel is necessary today at a higher level than ever before, we are looking for new tools and new modes of accessing our own peace. Some of us are seeking out new ways to connect with old methods (Eastern healing modalities) and new experiences of ancient dynamics (Eastern philosophies) to bring us peace of mind, peace of heart and peace of body. Others of us are not sure how to achieve peace fully, or even achieve a modicum of peace, for that matter.
Most of us don’t truly know a full experience of serenity. We catch glimpses of it. But there are always deeper levels, a richness to be experienced as we delve deeper into our experience of being human. Often, we believe we don’t have enough time to learn something new, to consistently practice, or to take a new direction from the path we’re currently on. The irony is that we would experience an abundance of time (and frankly, everything) if only we took the time to learn what is presented here, and allow it to seep into the very core of our being.
Serenity is not something to aspire to in our old age. Bliss is not something to aspire to for a “someday-” kind of future. It can be had right here, right now. I share these words of a former Buddhist monk, Jack Kornfield, who was one of the key teachers to bring Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West, and in whose presence I’ve always felt such love and empathy as I’ve listened to him. In his words, there is a path to serenity…
Now, that being said, let’s get real. If you were to talk to my daughter or beloveds, they would tell you quite honestly that Jack can also be rather impatient. I get impatient, hurried or frustrated with things when I think they could be done better and quicker and so forth. This is really important to say, because it doesn’t help us as human beings to become an ideal. We’re all human. We all carry patience and impatience, dedication and apathy, care and lack of care. We all carry those noble and beautiful capacities of human beings, and we carry our failures.
Oscar Wilde called this “the tainted glory of humanity.” To understand patience or trust and other beautiful qualities is to hold them in a wide and loving heart with the fullness of our humanity. We become more patient and more trusting when we realize that trust also includes room to be impatient and to make mistakes, or to have things turn out in ways we didn’t want or are not expected.
Then we trust something bigger. There is a famous Ojibwa Indian saying, “Sometimes I go about pitying myself, when all the while I’m being carried by great winds across the sky.” There is a vastness to life unfolding, and we are a part of it. We’re not separate from it. When we feel this, we know that we too will be carried through periods of difficulty and ease, grief and joy, loss and success, and that we’re part of something so much larger.
Our foibles and the struggles are also natural, just as we encounter rocks and obstacles rafting down a stream (or swimming up a stream if you’re a salmon). They are woven into our human incarnation. And who we are is the spirit, is the consciousness that was born into us, which is taking this amazing journey. Remembering the vastness allows for a sense of trust.
Trust also remembers the universe is lawful. We can trust that when we plant an apple seed, we get an apple tree. When we plant a mango seed, we get a mango tree. What we plant moment by moment in all our changing seasons is what will bear fruit, in our own heart, in our relations with others and the things that we care about, in the world.
Trust allows us to act in the world beautifully. It gives us a kind of courage, an inner strength to dedicate ourselves to what really matters, personally and globally. Trust knows that every piece adds to the whole, and every contribution of something beneficial or beautiful nudges humanity and our world in a direction that matters. This is a blessing.Jack Kornfield, www.jackkornfield.com
This kind of trust requires a willingness to live in this moment, where there are no “end of the world,” or apocalyptic fears; where there is only what is right in front of us and immediately around us – and nothing to fear or anguish over. It requires a willingness to trust in something larger than ourselves and know that we are a part of it. This allows us to be at peace with that we are all of it, what we reject and what we welcome. In that place of peace, there is no need for guilt, for shame, for blame or resentment; or even for anger or sadness. Organically, those emotional attachments fall away. We are emotional beings though, so we don’t give this up. It is who we are as human beings. And… if you can carry/hold it all at the same time, then there can exist both serenity and emotions at once. In the “something larger,” and not in our small ideas of what’s possible or our limited perspectives, all of it can exist at once.
Until next time.
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