"I'm finding myself in conversation these days with more and more people who are sincerely seeking a connection with their deeper selves. After two and a half millennia, the observations of Siddhartha Gautama, whom we call the historical Buddha, still ring true.
His basic observation was that our "normal" way of understanding ourselves and our world is conditioned in such a way that we can never be truly satisfied, due to the way we constantly push away what we do not like, and crave what we don't have or want more of (usually pleasure and security). The resulting attachments keep us from the Present, where real joy, power, love and equanimity reside.
Unfortunately, our conditioned understandings are baked within our subconscious, and they crucially affect our taste of the world. How can we un-bake our experience? Simply by paying attention to our lives moment by moment.
A member of the group shared with me a principle he uses in his counseling work: he says people need to go from the mind of "What If?" to the mind of "What Is". I like this very much. So much of our lives are spent living out some story of how we think things are and how we can make them better for ourselves; planning courses of action, even words you will say, to make matters work out your way. But it is all based on speculation and ideas. How often has the future ever conformed to what you thought was going to happen? Maybe.... never?
Actually, I like it even better if instead of saying "What Is", we say "What Is?" Cultivate the mind of "What Is?" When we approach the world with total curiosity and openness, things unfold in very surprising ways. At work, at home, with family, with intimate partners (especially with intimate partners!), to listen without prejudging can radically shift the way you experience your life.
This of course is just another way of looking at Dharma Gates, which we spoke about last week. "Dharma gates are omnipresent; I vow to enter and experience them." From the feedback I got, that discussion really resonated with a lot of people.
It is liberating to view your life with the attitude that everything that arises to your awareness can be a gateway to a deeper sense of self. Even sadness, confusion, discomfort. When you are sad, be sad; when confused, be confused. Feel what is going on in your body with curiosity, but without judgement. If you don't add anything to it, or spin out your story about how your feelings arose and how you can make them "better".... you will step into a very lively world. " - Paul Gyodo