I’ve studied through the slogans a dozen times in my life;
these are my musings on the slogan currently, not a formal interpretation.
For that reason they are less about straight Buddhist teachings,
and I think able to be shared with most practitioners of other faiths or no faith
(unless yours doesn’t allow you to read any other tradition.)
If you have time and the inclination, I published the WHOLE thang here!
“22: If you can practice even when
distracted you are well-trained.”
When I first read this 35 years ago I thought it was about being able to sit zazen,
to breathe without distraction or mind wandering, to just follow my breath,
despite discomfort, noises, pressuring thoughts, crazy thoughts…
I’ve never mastered that completely, though I occasionally have a good sit.
In trying to have a good sit, I learned to listen to my own mind when I would not shut up.
I learned who I am and how to check in to who I am in any given moment,
because we change… shift… grow… go momentarily insane!
Now I hear it differently, and have taken to heart what is really important.
Sitting is not so important (gasp!) though I did a lot of it to get to this place.
What is important, is who you are as a person when the shit is flying.
Our world appears to be spinning out of control in so many ways.
People are stressed and angry and fearful and self-centered.
Some are greedy and malicious.
There are REAL threats in this reality.
A teacher used to say we lived in interesting times…
That seems an understatement 30 years later.
I don’t know that I could have gotten to THIS place without zazen,
AA, or any of the other things I’ve done,
but I know that this is what’s true and important for me.
Can I be a decent heart-centered person when I am confronted with the world’s evils?
Can I be calm and rational and possibly kind when I am threatened?
When I am having to draw boundaries with a crazy person, can I stay centered?
When I am scared? When I am being abandoned?
Can I protect myself from real dangers without being vindictive?
How do I move from the horrid situations to a joyful place?
Tonglen practice helped me get to this in a way zazen did not.
Thinking about all the others in the world who might be experiencing
what I am walking through or worse, while in the midst of my own real crisis
or monkeymind fears moved me to a better place.
I breathe in my own pain,
and on the outbreath send me and everyone what I need.
I breathe in another sentient beings pain,
and send them and everyone the antidote to their distress.
In so doing I am living my boddhisattva vows and expanding my consciousness.
Sometimes that is all there is to do…
Okina Journal, with pen and ink, and watercolor.
©D. Katie Powell.
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In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open comments becoming
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Oh Katie they are such wise words….ones to under during the day. Thank you.