“WHEN WE SEE A FLOWER, we think, ‘How pretty. I like looking at this.’ The feeling is one of acceptance. Seeing a cockroach, however, may cause revulsion and rejection. We may experience feelings like ‘I don’t want to see that. It’s disgusting. I wish it would go away.’
“So, who is doing all this accepting and rejecting? The answer, of course, is your own mind. We make these decisions as we see the world around us with our eyes, hear it with our ears, and feel it with our bodies. Acceptance of something gives rise to attachment, rejection to anger. Therefore, we can see that the true source of anger lies in the individual, not in the object. Objects are neutral. A flower has no intention of making us happy; neither does a cockroach intend to cause repulsion. Every individual’s perception is fixed by his or her attitude.
“Let us say that all of us are wearing colored glasses. These glasses are the difference between whether one lives in the light of contentment or in the darkness of dissatisfaction. The Buddha provides instructions to remove the glasses and correct our vision, but the responsibility of actually taking the glasses off falls entirely upon the individual. Please do not wait until a mystical being intervenes. That will never happen.”
NOTE: Thanisssara will offer an online teaching on “Refuge: The Heart’s Own Knowing,” on SUNDAY Sept. 29, 2019. Register here at WorldwideInsight.org., the site of an online Dharma practice group. The teachings are given in the Buddhist tradition of dana: “The Buddhist tradition views teachings of liberation as priceless, and this online class is offered in the spirit of generosity, called Dana. The teacher is directly supporting your practice. Please support her / him directly, through your generosity.“
“Our practice is preparation for when real challenges hit.” – Ajahn Chah
It’s important to recognize that we are living in extremely challenging times, and because of this, we are going to experience some very painful and disturbing bodily feelings, emotions, and mind states.
When the norms and forms of life we are used to radically change, we can become very triggered and overwhelmed. Our nervous system deregulates and old traumas can activate destabilizing our sense of cohesion and focus. Feelings of profound fear, anxiety, panic, outrage, shock, despair, disorientation can arise, and when they do, we need to take extra special care. To pause and recognize that there’s nothing wrong with us, that actually what is felt is an appropriate response to a fast dismembering world.
So, as profound uncertainty deepens and intensifies within and all around, our Dharma practice becomes ever more vital. The ground and heart of this practice is alignment with Refuge. This offers a direct connection to sustaining and nourishing qualities of peace, equanimity, joy, clarity, impassioned fearless compassion, discernment, and the confidence to listen ever more deeply into the “here and now” living Dharma.
We are in a time that is inviting us to be more real, more authentic and to let go of what is no longer essential, to forgive it all, and to trust the capacity of the heart’s ability to regenerate and hone to integrity and love.
It’s a time when each breath becomes ever more precious and when Rilke’s encouragement is superbly meaningful:
“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
Thanissara trained in the Forest School of Ajahn Chah as a Buddhist nun for 12 years. She is a Dharma teacher and co-founded Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat Centre in South Africa and Sacred Mountain Sangha in the US with Kittisaro. She is an author and poet and is currently involved in mobilizing a Buddhist initiative to Declare Climate Emergency Now in the San Francisco Bay area.