Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Desire. Contentment. Life Meditations.

A very good friend has posted the following, quoting it from the Tao Te Ching:
"The Tao never does anything, yet through it, all things are done. If powerful men and women could center themselves in it the whole world would be transformed by itself in its natural rhythms.

People would be content with their simple everyday lives in harmony and free of desire. When there is not desire all things are at peace."

She also commented: "How do i truly flow with the No-thing, and yet " leave nothing undone?" Why am i so conditioned that i have to DO SOMETHING... otherwise i'm just lazy & unproductive? I know in my heart the No-thing is the Source of everything. Is it really possible for me to just BE, and still create an effect on the world?"

Actually, this will be the third time i am componsing this entry. The first was too chaotic, while the second was actually really good. Sadly, i didn't post that comment, went to eat, watched a movie, and when i got back, Facebook refreshed itself and so my comment entry is now gone back to Oblivion. I am just laughing it off. Probably i will be able write it much better this last time. I've composed it twice, re-organized my thoughts much better during the second time. I do hope i remember what i wrote. Here it goes.

My take on this is to not react to our Desires and Fears - coming through the forms of grasping/craving/clinging. Through personal experience, it is our reactivity to these that brings us the most suffering and regret. We react so quickly that we are not really even aware at the moment, blinded by jealousy, anger and ignorance, that we just end up making more mistakes and making things worse than it should be. It gets piled one on top of the other as we get swayed into doing the things that we think we are afraid of not doing and regret not correcting, the things that we think we desire for so much and must have fulfilled. It becomes murky, unclear, cloudy - all of these have used to describe that feeling, that mind and heart state. We find that we have lost our Selves, searching for it over and over again. Hoping that one desire after another will answer the question that we ask in Life, hoping that the thrill will make up for the uncertainty of all things. Is it really so? Or is it just a small part of the whole?

In all my dealings and relationships, Desire and Fears have always been a very central part of each one of them. I've reacted continually, and each just resulted to something that i felt i needed something about to "correct" it. I kept on doing something, always feeling the "need" in correcting it, only making it much worse one after the next. It brought me heartache, loss, shame, guilt, doubt, extreme confusion, paranoia, and even paralysis. i really thought i was losing my mind and my sanity. My whole being was filled with so much fear that i couldn't even move. The thought of living this life was almost invisible.... And to think that it was just all in my head.... It affected me that much. One thought after another, they swayed my heart. It made me do, think and say something. I will replay everything in my head. It intensifies the paranoia, as well as the paralysis. I lost trust in myself. I believed i was no good. I struggled so much to break free, but it was like quicksand and sticky molasses. i was stuck. Moving too much aggravated it and made sinking more imminent, the ability to break free unforeseeable. Meditation magnified all these tenfold - it shocked me so much that i stopped meditating for a long while.

Five months before all these started, i was taught meditation by this very friend who has posted the above quote. I cannot say that i was good at it. Who was? But i did my best to practice the best that i could at that time. At first it was even uncomfortable at all - well inside my mind that is. I always end up having aching back and legs, but that was about it. It did started mindfulness training for myself, even if i wasn't even aware of it that time. It was a few years after that that i actually learned about Mindfulness and Awareness. The lesson and experience of Meditation brought back life to this spark of fire in me. I've always resonated strongly to the matters of spirituality, past-lives, reincarnation, and so much more that our physical plane can't really completely understand. Even so, my wonderings kept me reading, looking for answers or a way to understand. The paranoia persisted for almost two years. I took refuge in Love - it kept me intact, protected, in this unstable part of my life. The friend who was always with me and beside me at that time sheltered me within the sphere of her love. But i was still so deeply encroached under the grip of Desire - for i have it all: clinging/grasping/craving. It was so great... I thought i was losing myself. by the end of the second year, my friend and i had a falling out. I admit that it was largely my fault too. But this experience of loss brought me back to myself. it proved to be a life-changing experience in that i started to change my own life by learning to finally help myself - I am the only person who can truly help myself more deeply. i started picking up the pieces of myself. "How can i help the people that i love when i myself am flailing around, waiting to be saved?" I usually wallowed in depression and came out all the more dark and hardened after each dealing and relationship. This time, i started walking my path towards healing.

Five years since that day i learned meditation and three years after my friend and i parted ways, i find myself still in the same predicament. What changed though from the point on? I am growing. I have started nourishing myself. I have become stronger for myself. I continue to Love. I am slowly able to let go and to just let it be. I don't meditate as much as i did when i first started. I actually don't meditate much at all anymore. I do take time to enjoy the silence, for it is rarely quiet in my head, chaotic and rarely in focus. But these past years attested this Truth for me: Meditation is not just practiced through sitting; Meditation is Mindfulness and Awareness Practice in Action, in each moment of our daily life, in everything that we do. Desire and Fear held me in paralysis back then. It still does. But when my Mindfulness and Awareness, cultivated through daily interactions with myself and the world that i have started opening myself to, bringme back to the Present Moment, i find the power to loosen the grip Desire and Fear has on me. I am the Key and the Answer to it all - to my own freedom, to my own growth, to my own Happiness. I have only realised this now, as i am writing this. Nothing is perfect. Good and Bad go hand in hand, and will exist like so. But our Present Mindfulness and Awareness when our Choices are made make the most difference, the most effect. For our whole being and intention are set into it. It bears our mark, "This is what i really want to do." I admit, it is a hard practice. i still stumble through it day in and day out. But i know i have learned from it, and i still do. I believe I have become a better person, and i am still growing and cultivating each day. I still feel down and confused on certain days, elated and up in the air in the next few. I make the step towards the next level. I can make it possible for myself or i can sabotage myself. It is all up to me. What shall i choose? I fail myself at times, but i always stand back up. As long as we don't give up on ourselves. Thank God i haven't given up and did not give up on myself. and thank God that i am surrounded by people who still stand by me and have stood by me.

Love with Your Whole Heart
In the spiritual path, there's nothing to get, and everything to get rid of. Obviously, the first thing to let go of is trying to "get" love, and instead to give it. That's the secret of the spiritual path. One has to give oneself wholeheartedly. Whatever we do half heartedly, brings halfhearted results. How can we give ourselves? By not holding back.
-Ayya Khema, "What Love Is"

There are still a lot of choices to make right ahead. Life is not the grand and perfect story that we thought it to be. It is the accumulation of each little moment that we live day by day, lived fully with Mindfulness and Awareness, and with Active Choice of Live or Drift. These moments usually just pass us by, and us always in Drift mode. Life will never be perfect. The sunshine will always be laced with shadows in certain areas. But there is perfection in this imperfection. For through these and our own imperfections, we learn that we are already perfect in every way. Perfect because we are able to make decisions for ourselves when we have faced ourselves completely. Perfect because we are able to appreciate the good and the bad and make the most of our Life. When we learn to appreciate our Life, we learn to appreciate the good and the bad together. We learn to appreciate that going through all of these experiences is the Perfect Life Plan, everything in its right place at the right moment at the right time to help us for the Ultimate Purpose - growth, cultivation, learning, evolution, Living and Being. There are and will be days that this will be hard to grasp, even for me. I tell you. I am laughing now. but it will knock the wind out of me later on. But i am still standing. It starts with Awareness, set free by Acceptance, leading towards Letting Go and Letting Be. This is a gift in itself. after all, we are very much the cause of our own suffering, and to some degree the suffering of others, too.

Live Lightly
We have to cultivate contentment with what we have. We really don’t need much. When you know this, the mind settles down. Cultivate generosity. Delight in giving. Learn to live lightly. In this way, we can begin to transform what is negative into what is positive. This is how we start to grow up.
-Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, "No Excuses"

In place of Desire comes Contentment. Contentment arises through Love and Gratitude. This is very much a bitter pill to swallow. Ego, Pride and all else will resist this. It's always easier to follow what we have been accustomed to - our Ego. But i find it pretty much worth it to be humbled by the above experiences. Because of Love and Gratitude, we learn to appreciate our Life and our blessings. Not all at once. But it warms our Heart, it revives our Being. We are able to view the same sky in a different Light. the same Nature that has surrounded us all along as a whole new experience. It's a simple pleasure, yet it is refreshing gift to ourselves. I always lived with a heavy chip on my shoulder - everything was dark, gloom. everybody was bad and i had to always be in full defense mode. I doubted a lot. I have soften up a bit, but i still am all those. But now, i know i have a choice. Appreciation brings humility, as well as paying it forward. We pass the Love on, even through just a good thought, a good word, a good deed. It won't be big ripple as we'd expect. Actually, don't expect anything. When we give, give fully without expecting in return. Not only will you feel good, the other person feels good as well. I believe in giving and doing good without counting the karma. Counting and Accounting for each good deed diminishes its value. It's like paying for your own deliverance, so in the end, you were still thinking of yourself and of your goal in saving yourself. Let people make the decision to pay it forward or not. Goodness multiplies, i believe. As long as we don't put a stop to it, as long as we don't build walls around it, around ourselves and from others.

Right now, i find so much more meaning in Master Cheng Yen's reminder from the Sutra of Innumberable Meanings (無量義經), "One gives birth/starts/produces the Innumerable. The Innumerable begins from One. (一生無量。無量從一生。) " It is also from this reminder that i have found the answer to my dear friend's question, "Is it really possible for me to just BE, and still create an effect on the world?" A forest can start from one seed. as that one seed takes root and grows into a tree, nurtured and strengthen by both Nature's conducive and destructive elements, its fruits contain the seeds that become the trees in the forest. It spreads on and on. Just like seed of goodness in our heart, we have to nurture and cultivate it. In Living our Life this way, we touch other people's hearts with love and warmth, and the seed of goodness takes root in them too. Each of us nurtures and cultivates ourselves, and others around us as well; each person we meet is a Great Teacher, each person a Mirror of Ourselves to help us grow. When we bloom, everybody benefits. That is where the ripple comes in. We are a small drop in the ocean that affects those right around us, which in turn affects those around them. The web of interconnetedness becomes more obvious, more visible. It is no longer the "six degrees of separtion", it has become the "six to the infinite degrees of interconnectedness."

I believe it is time for all of us to take the time to grow. We are the only ones who can make that choice.