It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals.

“Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word that means “noble or awakened heart.” Just as butter is inherent in milk and oil is inherent in a sesame seed, the soft spot of bodhichitta is inherent in you and me. It is equated in part, with our ability to love. No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart of bodhichitta cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred completely whole.

It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals. When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself. Bodhichitta is also equated, in part, with compassion – our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. Based on a deep fear of being hurt, we erect protective walls made out of strategies, opinions, prejudices and emotions….

This tenderness for life, bodhichitta, awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others. We train in the  bodhichitta practices in order to become so open that we can take the pain of the world in, let it touch our hearts, and turn it into compassion.”

Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron

Today’s headlines. Make us so angry.  Anger begets anger. Begets violence.

You know what? Forget the headlines. What about your everyday life? What about mine? I was having a conversation with a very angry person. They continued to heap their poisonous thoughts on me. Trying with their every word to get me to join in with their righteous indignation. Finally, when I wouldn’t bite that hook. They turned to attack me personally. By golly. If they were angry they wanted me to be angry too!

Why?

To join in the fight? In the war? To what end?

I’m so tired of being angry. Of our angry world.

Aren’t you?

Mountains and Mole Hills and Cats

We were on vacation a few months ago. It was my turn to drive the rental car. My first time behind the wheel was on a very busy California highway.  I was constantly panicked by how close, large, and looming all the cars appeared behind me and next to me as I checked my rearview mirrors.

Finally, I thought to actually turn my head and glance over my shoulder. Such relief!

“What the bleep! What is up with these mirrors? They’re scaring the bleep out of me!”

“Mom. It says right on the mirror, “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”

Oh. And duh. “Yuh. And bigger and scarier!”

Isn’t that life? Turns out that the cars in the mirror weren’t such the big deal I was making them out to be. They weren’t in my way. I wasn’t going to cause an 18 car pile up by changing lanes. My perspective was just a little funky.

The mirrors were making Mountains out of Mole Hills.

And so.

Lately I’ve been working to catch myself. Am I looking into a rental car mirror? What’s the real situation here? Am I Making Mountains out of Mole Hills?

Pema Chodron explains an aspect of this:

The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval, we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we are practicing harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness and letting go. We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal.

I love the last line. “We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal.” You know. No Mole Hills into Mountains.

And now for the cats.

Whenever a box or a bag comes into the house. One or both of the cats inevitably figures out a way to get inside. They are so very curious.

See. You can learn stuff from cats. Be curious today.

Being Brave

Hello again! I’ve missed being here. I’m not sure how nine days of 2012 have passed so quickly. But here we are. The boys are back in school. The tree is down. And most of the decorations are back in the attic.

And so. I’ve made a resolution for the new year. I never do that. But here we are. And I’ve done it.

I’ve been listening to a retreat given by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Ani Pema Chodron and Acharya Adam Lobel titled, Being Brave: Transforming our World. These are teachings from the Shambhala tradition of Buddhism which emphasizes not just reflection but action.

The beginning of this retreat asks us to do two things. To be brave and to reflect on our basic goodness.

The Sakyong challenges us to contemplate our inherent goodness. He notes that it is very easy to doubt it. And the more we can explore, and talk about it, and contemplate, maybe instead of feeling that we are not worthy or good, or that humankind is selfish and flawed, that if we find our goodness we can create a better community locally and globally. We can take 2012 and make our world better. That is pretty awesome in every way you can define the word “awesome.”

So that’s my resolution. To be brave. To reflect on my basic goodness, and the inherent goodness of humankind. Because I think that if I do that and if we do that, it will really make a difference. So. Finally. First time ever. I’ve made a resolution.

And further, for me, and the scary part of this resolution, is the part where I feel like I need to find my brave. To put my money where my resolution is. And that is that I want to do it here together. I’m hoping this can be interactive and that I can bring thoughts and ideas to the page that are worthy of reflection and debate. That’s kind of scary for me. And for sure a challenge.

So. Thanks for bearing with me and joining in.