Day 26 – Are you being or are you dreaming?
You sit. You breathe in. You breathe out. You relax your body. You check your emotions and become aware of how they are affecting your body. You move into the emotions. You watch to see if they disperse, grow or simply stay the same.
You walk mindfully through the day (or as much as possible). You make sure to feel the plates and glasses as you wash the dishes. You label your thoughts as you wipe down the countertops and vacuum the rugs.
You pay attention to your steps, how your feet feel against the ground. You listen and note the birds singing in the trees around you. You watch them hop around on the tree branches above your head. You note that your mind is replaying a scene between yourself and a friend out at coffee yesterday. You note the smile that passes across your face when you think about how you laughed together, enjoying the moment of appreciating each other’s company.
You get in the car and sit for a moment taking deep breaths in and out. You note in your mind that today is a day, neither good nor bad. Neither better than yesterday or worst than tomorrow. It is as it is and no matter what happens you will still have a deep-seated peace running through your body.
You turn on the car, back out of the drive and then realize your sunglasses are still in your purse. As you pull slowly down the street you note that you shouldn’t be reaching and searching in your purse while driving, no matter how slowly. But you grab the glasses and get them out of the case and onto your face with no harm done.
You then get on your way. You turn on the car radio and listen to a zencast as you drive to work. You nod your head in agreement with the many points made and ponder if this is true to your life and how it relates to you.
Then before you know it you’re on the highway and some *&^%-ing jerk doesn’t indicate and pulls right out in front of you at a slower speed than he/she should be on a highway.
You slam on your brakes, swear at the top of your lungs, gesturing under the dashboard. Your breath rate increases, your chest tightens and your heart beats faster. You note that it’s not helping you to get angry and swear. You realize that you could have just put your brakes on and slowed down and let this ‘jerk’ go ahead of you.
You don’t think about your deep-seated attachment to not braking for anyone. You realize it’s your fear of dying that has caused such a primordial response to near collision and possible death. But that’s reasonable right? It’s innate in all of us to survive and do whatever it takes to protect ourselves in the face of death, right?
You don’t register that all this is the ego talking – that deep-seated ego that we’re so quick to believe we’ve transcended when we treat a stranger kindly or give up personal possessions willingly.
The question here is, are you really practicing? Are you really a Buddhist? Or do you like the ‘idea’ of being a Buddhist better enough to practice loving kindness, compassion and mindfulness only when someone’s not cutting you off on the highway, or threatening your life/ your survival in any way.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting and striving to be a better person. Just don’t forget not to let ego fool you by pretending that you’re well settled on your Buddhist path, even if you believe it’s not possible for you to be enlightened in this lifetime.
Ego wants you to believe you’re a Buddhist already so that you no longer have to try to change or eliminate it. Ego wants you to feel comfortable in your current ‘Buddhist zone’, and then to defend yourself in situations when you don’t practice because you feel your very life is being threatened.
This is where I am in my current practice. I don’t go around telling people I’m a Buddhist though. I tell people I practice Buddhism. I don’t believe the label ‘I’m a Buddhist’ is helpful, and it definitely doesn’t do anything to enhance my relationships with other people. It simply gives those people another label to put on me. I don’t wish to add to their delusions of others.
However, listening to this podcast today I do agree that if you really want to and are a Buddhist, you’ll make sure that you act on what you learn and say, everyday and every way. If you are truly striving for awakening, you’ll be a Buddhist rather than ‘do’ what Buddhists ‘do’. Not an easy path to follow for sure. And it’s possible you’ll fail along the way. The important thing is that you’ll never give up on trying to annihilate the ego and the fear that rules our lives. You’ll come to know yourself and your ego’s tricks so well that delusion will become nigh impossible to believe.
Buddhism is a path of awakening. If this is truly the path you wish to follow make sure you’re asking yourself all the time if you’re actually awake, or simply sleepwalking through a Buddhism induced dream.
Right now I’m definitely dreaming, but I no longer wish to be driven throughout my life by my ego and fear. Therefore there is only one step to be taken. That of moving onto an unknown path that is the antithesis of my culture and heritage. But it’s a path I believe in. It’s a path that’s worth trying. It’s the path to freedom.