Day 117 – The Growing Roots of Peace, Love and Compassion
I always really enjoy Robina Courtin‘s talks even though they tend to be long enough to make me wonder how I’m going to get through the day AND blog at the end of it. Today was no exception. However, I don’t normally end up with much to blog about after her talks as they tend to get me thinking about things rather than summating ideas for a post. This was the idea that brought me most solace having listened to her explain the best way to work towards true compassion.
Everything we read and listen to concerning Buddhism is a Dharma seed planted in our minds. For as hard as practice can be these seeds are supposed to support practice and allow for growth and expansion in our Buddhist capabilities. After 116 days of my experiment I have to agree with this idea.
I’m not saying I’m a Bodhicitta in any way. In fact I’m nowhere near it, which is why today’s podcast left me questioning rather than exulting at all I have achieved so far.
It’s often difficult to perceive all the ways that we have grown and changed if we simply analyze where we are in terms of current circumstances. If I was to do this I would probably give up my practice tomorrow due to the anger, intolerance, frustration and impatience that occur in my life daily. However, if I think back (and I mean quite far back) to the days way before my experiment began (in fact back even before I knew what Buddhism was) I am able to begin a graph of sorts that depicts two parallel lines that move in conjunction with each other in terms of my mindfulness and also my lack of compassion. I wouldn’t say I was ever the most unaware person or the least compassionate, but there was definite room for improvement.
As the years go by there is an almost implausible increase that begins on the graph as the lines start to move apart. If you were to take each individual year and analyze it separately you would no doubt notice no change, but when you take the whole graph into consideration there is a definite increase in space between these lines that portray the Dharma seeds beginning to take root in the soil of my mind.
Even further along the graph the roots have grown to such a depth as to create a change in my actions rather than simply an awareness of the ways in which I act before I think. The more meditation I do and the more Dharma I learn the more these roots take hold and start molding and sculpting my mind towards that of a Bodhicitta.
I could stop this experiment right now and never listen to another word of the Dharma until I die, but I know that I’d been a changed person forever. There’s no way I could go back to living as I once did for my mind has created connections of lucidity that mean I can never see the world as I once did with my rose-colored spectacles secured to my nose (in which everything was about me and against me and cause me to suffer).
It’s a bit scary to realize this, actually, because it means that if I was to no longer plant any more Dharma seeds in my mind I would be left in a state in which I could see how my mind was creating my own suffering, but I would have no tools to prevent my mind from doing so. I guess this is why the further in my experiment I go the harder it is for me to let myself off the hook when I don’t meditate of a day, for example.
Looking at my graph so far it’s unlikely I’ll reach enlightenment in this lifetime unless I head off to a cave in the Himalayas like the inspiring Tenzin Palmo (Dian Perry) did so many years ago (I am looking forward to watching the documentary about her called Cave In The Snow that is available for viewing at the Tricycle BuddhaFest Online until mid July). Mind you, maybe it’s possible that the more Dharma seeds you plant the faster they grow and the quicker you will arrive at enlightenment?!
Thinking about all this, what gives me most hope is a deeper understanding that it’s not only about where you are right now, but also about where your headed. While progress at this second might seem excruciatingly slow those Dharma seeds are taking root and tomorrow may be a day in which the seeds burst open into a beautiful lotus flower that allows me not to take life so seriously, to be generous, to have compassion for everyone I encounter, to watch my thoughts with curiosity during meditation rather than berating myself for thinking, and to do my best to plant a Dharma seed in anyone I meet who is simply looking for my compassion and aid in preventing their suffering, if even only for that one moment that we meet.
I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow ;)
Glad to know I’m not the only one that’s imperfect! - Why I’m imperfect, The Dalai Lama tells
- Buddhist Quotations (rudyh.org)
- Interview with author, Stephen Asma (preciousmetal.wordpress.com)
- Day 57 – ‘The Dharma is good at the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end.’ (ayearoflivingwisely.wordpress.com)