Every so often my writing is completely inspired by something read in Lion’s Roar magazine whose sub-title is “Buddhist wisdom to awaken your heart and mind.” It nearly always keeps that monthly promise, delivering a golden nugget, sometimes a sizeable rock. The current issue’s essay by Mingyur Rinpoche has been working me over for two weeks. This teacher wandered on retreat four years with nothing more than the clothes on his back, begging for food and sleeping outside. This really snagged my curiosity. The first two text quotes are his.
He wrote of Buddhanature, the inherent luminous essence that exists in us all. Essential goodness. We’re born with it. So friggin’ inherent we easily miss it or forget about it or think it doesn’t apply to us. That would be like denying the existence of the sun when it’s covered by clouds. For me, it’s been a powerful confluence to once again immerse in the teaching of Buddhanature and have that absorption occur during the autumn equinox.
A sycamore has graced my front yard for almost a hundred years. It has already begun its yearly let go process. Such intelligence. It knows dark days are on the horizon, sunlight needed for photosynthesis will increasingly be unavailable. One by one, without angst or resistance or nail-biting, it ejects each expendable leaf.
With Mother Nature such a visible teacher, it seems a good moment to follow the trees. Buddhanature invites us to emulate this quality of letting go. Let go of what? Well, we each have our very personal let-go’s to deal with. That’s for sure. But I sense the possibility of a communal release shared with many. What would it mean to let go of our propensity to make things right, mend ourselves, fix others? Release our perpetual search for the next thing, be it material or spiritual? Surrender our inexhaustible desire for things to be different than they actually are?
“Maybe I couldn’t be fixed—
not because I was fundamentally flawed,
but because I wasn’t broken.”
For most of us, that would require a serious look at our “to do” list. What if the morning began with creating a “to be” list instead? Items like pause, pet the cat, take a breath, stare out the window, accomplish nothing, lay in the grass. Mingyur Rinpoche carefully outlines a simple process to land in this space, which can happen at any moment of your choosing. The practice begins with resting in awareness which is
“wide open and accommodating like the sky,
immeasurably deep and vast like the ocean,
stable and enduring like a massive mountain”
Here’s the deal—resting in awareness is not something we undertake or achieve or pull off. It can’t be accomplished or improved. It’s just who we are: open, deep, stable. We begin with simply resting in innate, effortless presence. Invitation to lift your eyes from the screen and do it right now. A pause, a moment of rest. Right off the “to be” list.
There’s a bit more to this practice and this is also enough. We are enough. And how to balance this enough-ness with the incredible pressing business of a planet in need of so much doing? I was thrown into this conundrum this week by my other magazine subscription. I only have two. The Sun interviewed Bill McKibben, a climate activist of thirty years duration. Bless his heart. The scope of the details from this and the following articlesent me into a nosedive of despair. Read them if you dare. How do we reconcile this practice of being with things as they are and also being in action to create a necessary difference in the world? Where does fixing ourselves end and making things right on the planet begin? If we drop our personal search for meaning, from where will the energy arise toward activism?
I don’t know the answers to these thorny questions of our current times. But what arises for me, sitting in this uneasy conundrum is the Serenity prayer, espoused (but not originated) by A.A.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”Reinhold Niebuhr
And what does all this have to do with all the offerings at https://bodyjoy.net/ ? Well just about everything. Effortless presence, though our birthright, has been drilled out of the majority of us from the get go. When I peruse these offerings, any one of them would qualify as practice in abiding awareness. But the workshop Moving from Inside Out jumps out at me. In this one day retreat your “to be” list will receive a powerful boost. Because recognizing our Buddhanature happens from the inside out and we’ll have ample time to anchor the quality of “simply being” in an embodied way. Our brains can read all about it without being it. When it anchors in the body, it becomes innate. Let’s cultivate the wisdom to know the difference.