Monday, February 28, 2011

There's a richer way to live life than most of us actually do. Richer, tastier, more meaningful. A way to live so that we don't so much avoid life's pains as walk gently with them. The three short quotes from this week's lectio are from people who know this deeply and communicate it helpfully.

I've spent many years learning how to fix life, only to discover at the end of the day that life is not broken. There is a hidden seed of greater wholeness in everyone and everything. We serve life best when we water it and befriend it. When we listen before we act. --Rachel Naomi Remen

...Dharma practice (embodying wise teaching) is concerned not with proving or disproving theories of self but with understanding and easing the grip of self-centeredness that constricts body, feelings, emotions, into a tight nugget of anguish. --Stephen Batchelor

Not causing harm requires staying awake. Part of being awake is slowing down enough to notice what we say and do. The more we witness our emotional chain reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. It becomes a way of life to stay awake, slow down, and notice. --Pema Chodron

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moods, Pain, Consolation

Lectio for the week, February 21

Moods dictate my behavior. If something makes me feel good, I want to have it; if it makes me feel bad, I want to get rid of it; if it leaves me indifferent, I ignore it. I find myself in a perpetual state of conflict: emotionally pulled one way and pushed another. --Stephen Batchelor

The important thing about the many strategies we use to shelter ourselves from feeling loss is that none of them leads to healing. Although denial, rationalization, substitution, avoidance, and the like may numb the pain of loss, every one of them hurts us in some far more fundamental ways. None is respectful toward life or toward process. None acknowledges our capacity for finding meaning or wisdom. Pain often marks the place where self-knowledge and growth can happen, much in the same way that fear does. --Rachel Naomi Remen

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. --Paul's second letter to the Church at Corinth

Monday, February 14, 2011

The World's Riches

Becoming more aware of what's going on (training ourselves to be better at this) opens us more and more the the richness of the world. Awareness also opens us to see how unreceptive we often are to these riches.

How do I misperceive the world's riches? Ah, let me count the ways!

Because we have basic goodness, basic wisdom, basic intelligence, we can stop harming ourselves and harming others. Because of mindfulness, we see things when they arise. Because of our understanding, we don't buy into the chain reaction that makes things grow from minute to expansive. We leave things minute.... It's a very transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. --Pema Chodron

The stiller the mind, the more palpable the dazzling torrent of life becomes. From the bubbling of thoughts to the collapse of empires, this changing world moves inexorably on, driven by conditions, diverted by choices, stunned by accidents. By focusing on each detail of experience with the same scrutiny, awareness discloses how I too am part of this. -Stephen Batchelor

Meaning is a form of strength. It has the power to transform experience, to open the most difficult of work to the dimension of joy and even gratitude. Meaning is the language of the soul. Few works of service can endure unless they are sustained by a lived sense of their meaning and purpose. --Rachel Naomi Remen

Monday, February 7, 2011

Silence and Action

Once we know that we're called to make a difference in the world, life is a never-ending adventure. It's rarely dull or easy and it's almost always interesting. Consider the relationship between action and silence and the need for wisdom moving between the two.

However daunting a situation may seem, as soon as we say or do something, it is suddenly transformed. When the door of hesitation is unlocked, we enter a dynamic, fluid world, which challenges us to act and act again. The most soul-searching meditation on ethics leaves the world intact; a single word or deed can transform it forever. --Stephen Batchelor

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us. Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is filled with refuge or rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is the lap of God. --Rachel Naomi Remen

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
--Proverbs 24:3-4