Another peep into the life of one of our Sangha. Quite philosophical and with a very personal touch. Sharing with us their personal account of the ups and downs of the path. How brave and kind to share this with us.
I have been attending meditation classes for about a year now, have been on a handful of retreats and have read a few of Geshe la’s books. So while I am not a complete beginner, in no way could I be described as experienced.
I felt inspired to write this as a way of sharing what I have been feeling and what I have learned during this past few weeks of the online Lamrim retreat that has taken place during the initial stages of the lockdown situation most of the world is facing now due to the coronavirus.
For me, the main thing the retreat has shone a light on is the fact that we need to question ourselves more in terms of what the teachings mean for us on a more subtle personal level.
Perhaps we sometimes forget or neglect to question ourselves about this point, and instead just hear the words or accept the teachings on a more generic level, rather than trying to apply them to the context of our own lives and our own particular spiritual path.Perhaps we believe we know it all ‘more or less’ and that our current understanding is good enough. Then when we truly question ourselves or someone we know questions us about ‘why’ it isn’t working yet, ‘why’ we aren’t happy all the time, ‘why’ we aren’t free from suffering yet, we really start to think and to wonder to ourselves… yep you guessed it, why! Sound familiar to anyone?
How often do we remember to question what our true motivations and genuine intentions are for what we do and why we are doing it? Do we do this in an honest, transparent and candid way? How often do we actually put Dharma into practice in a real and meaningful way on a practical level in our own life, rather than just thinking or lazily assuming we are doing it already just by saying the words in class and thinking to ourselves, well that is that then, good job, done! Then reverting to type as soon as we are finished class. How many of us do this? These are some of the questions I have been contemplating, as I try harder to make effort to genuinely take the teachings to heart for use in a practical way in my daily life, rather than just in class and for a short while afterwards. It’s a slow process but hopefully I will get there!
Some days are pretty good and the world is more or less alright yet other days can be dark and things can spiral quickly. The bad times can last an hour or two or in a bad case a couple of days or more. General underlying grumpiness, nostalgia, worry, fear or anger… more or less the whole shebang! Sound familiar to anyone? Perhaps some of it. Even though on the outside you know your conditions are good by any conventional measure, and to a stranger you meet they might think things are pretty rosy in your world, on the inside you sometimes feel empty, sorrowful or tormented.
All we want is to feel balanced and peaceful, so that in every moment of every day we can feel cool, calm and collected. To breeze through the day with a degree of lightness and airiness that makes us pleasant to be around whilst being genuine and feeling trouble free. Does this sound like a familiar and constantly out of reach aspiration? To some of us, maybe yes. To those who have achieved this already, no. And well done to those that have the level of control of their mind to have this experience of life, I am happy for you!
Personally why do I want this? Because I am sick and tired of the ups and the downs. Like REALLY sick of it now! The story I tell myself has gone on too long now and I am finally realising it’s draining and pointless and benefits no-one, to the point that I am frustrated that I have not achieved the lightness of mind I desire. Which may seem laughable to some as it does me, as of course I know it will require time, effort, consistency and patience. In fact it may even be a lifetimes work, yet, I expect it to happen right away… in just over a year. Work that one out!
What I hadn’t realised until this last few weeks and what this retreat has made me realise, is that number one, the answers lie within us and number two, it will require time and effort from my side. More than I thought. Buddha is simply a very wise all knowing tour guide. He is driving the tuk tuk and knows all the routes you can take, all the best destinations and all the sights along the way. But you are the one deciding on the destination and it is down to you to provide the fuel. In other words you decide where you want your mind to go and you need to put the effort in to get there. Now is the time to pick the right destination and to keep the fuel tank topped up, so that your tour guide Buddha can take you on an amazing journey of discovery to your desired destination, explaining everything along the way.