So, life continues to be interesting. I struggle with how I feel about the difficulties that keep cropping up. We are well off, by whole world standards, but not well off by American (US) standards. (I’ll spare you the details, but I do not think I’m being false by saying lots of things are a current struggle.) It is difficult to feel comfortable in my own skin right now, so I have whittled down my practice to simply trying to accept where things are and to be joyfully mindful of being alive.
The only lack of faith I have is in myself. Mindfulness makes it easier to see exactly where I am, and what is going on. Still, it doesn’t always provide me with the answers I need to adjust the way I do things. How does one shift to a healthier, saner way of being? I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Time to find my cushion, methinks….
So this is a bit of a slippery fish for me right now. An important part of my practice right now is increasing my awareness of every moment, which I am making some headway on. However, lately I’ve been struggling to be joyful when I am practicing mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh frequently speaks of recognizing our difficulties and smiling at them, but sometimes this is oh-so-hard for me. Doing this – greeting my experiences and feelings with joyful, mindful acceptance – can sometimes require a tremendous act of faith on my part. In An Introduction to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Lama Lhundrup says:
Then, through contemplating the nature of samsara, we should relinquish all desire, all wanting, all clinging to the cycle of existence and dissolve all sadness and evil-mindedness. With “sadness” the Buddha meant the sadness which arises in the beginning when we take the resolution to leave samsara behind, an uneasiness due to leaving our beloved attachments. There should be no such sadness in our mind when we are letting go of the causes of suffering (!), but rather the great joy of a firm resolve to go towards liberation and to become able to make it accessible to all others as well. In order to practice mindfulness it is very helpful to have the support of a joyful aspiration.
Mindfulness is the practice of those who are happy to get out of samsara. Our basic attitude of mind should be free of clinging to this world. Having this as our basis we can develop the four foundations of mindfulness. For this we have to practice with diligence and with a clear, precise knowing of what we are doing, with clearly understood instructions on our meditation. Mindfulness means not to be forgetful, not forgetting the object of one’s intention. Mindfulness needs to be accompanied by equanimity, a stable mind, not impressed by whatever might appear in mind, and it should be continuous, without interruption; not sometimes mindful and sometimes not. A continuous mindfulness is actually based on a deep letting go, just as Gendun Rinpoche always instructed us. Mindfulness establishes itself naturally when we have no interest for the world and let go of our worldly preoccupation.
It is this joyful aspiration that I am trying for right now.
You know, I love my husband very much. We’ve been married for almost 16 years. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very much worth it.
My husband is passionate about his beliefs. We have a different religious context, but we come from the same spiritual context. He is all about loving-compassion. Check out his opening blog entry. I’d love to know what you think, and so would he. ^_^
A little bit of a digression …. My husband and I are not of the same context, spiritually. He has a spiritual heritage, a cultural foundation that I do not. I was not raised steeped in a religious tradition. My religious upbringing was listening to other people talk about their spiritual lives as I visited with them, and also the ecumenical realities of being raised in a military community. I remember visiting churches on base for cultural events of one sort or another and letting my mind pick at the various religious artifacts I could see around me. I wanted so much to understand the spiritual rubrics they represented – really understand them, not just have an intellectual grasp of them. My churches were multi-purpose churches designed to fit the spiritual needs of the many different peoples that make up the corps of the armed forces. I am a spiritual orphan raised by a long series of spiritual foster parents. I have thought for many many years about this, and after long thought, I have realized that I am ill-suited for Christianity. It is a second language to me, not the fabric of my upbringing. So, with that said, I have always imagined, that if God is as my Christian husband believes He is, then He is sublime. And if His face is to be found, to me, it is to be found not in the rough trappings of our everyday but here, in the clouds of new solar life in a brilliant starlit nebula….