1-19-20 Upside Down

 Upside Down

We base our lives on seeking happiness and avoiding suffering, but the best thing we can do for ourselves—and for the planet—is to turn this whole way of thinking upside down. 

On a very basic level all beings want to be happy. When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong, and we’re willing to do anything to feel OK again. (Drink, drug, shop, get on the computer, be constantly late, play video games have sex, eat, get angry, withdraw.) What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness.

Many people seek a spiritual path because of deep unhappiness. Yet it is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely, or inadequate, there’s been some kind of mistake or we’ve lost it. In reality, when you feel depressed, lonely, betrayed, or any unwanted feelings, this is an important moment on the spiritual path. This is where real transformation can take place.

As long as we’re caught up in always looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we’re always running away from discomfort, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of unhappiness and disappointment, and we will feel weaker and weaker. Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me, not shut me down?”

But this is the very same moment when we could do something different. Right on the spot, through practice, we can get very familiar with the barriers that we put up around our hearts and around our whole being. We can become intimate with just how we hide out, doze off, freeze up or get aggressive. Amazingly, when we give them our full attention they start to fall apart.

The whole thing could turn around simply by not erecting barriers; simply by staying open to the difficulty, to the feelings that you’re going through; That is a revolutionary step. Staying open to everything we experience, letting the sharpness of difficult times pierce us to the heart, letting these times open us, humble us, make us wiser and more brave.

We let many small things agitate us. Our plans don’t work out, traffic is bad, someone says something that scratches our ego, we drop something, the people at work are idiots, others don’t act like we need them to, the computer is not working right. All these are based on our ego, and we get upset, aggressive or we go hide when the world does not respond properly to our needs. When we respond poorly we are adding to the chaos, not calming it.

We grow by cultivating a sense of patience and acceptance that we gain through spiritual practices and cultivating a mindfulness and awareness at all times. When we begin to get
tightened up, we use that awareness to choose to relax into what is happening and respond from a place of acceptance. We begin checking our habitual responses and replacing them with a healthier response, that goes beyond our small wants and fears, and encompasses a larger view and inclusion of reality. True Reality is not ego, or “Your Reality”.

We need to care for and honor the small things in life. The relationships we have with our family, workers and friends. We have to breathe and live with a sense of patience and feel what is really important, address it kindly, and know what is best to just let go. Not letting the everyday world become a burden, but a wonderful place with challenges and joys abounding.

Honoring and caring for the small things in life is where a peaceful and rich life comes from. Not trying to get to Nirvana, or to a state of grace, (get the big prize), but walking in that direction with most of our steps. A wise person protects their serenity like a jewel.

We need to recognize how much time we spend on finding fault and judging, and how much time we spend on cultivating our spiritual, awakened nature. We may have the two time frames
upside-down. 10 minutes of sitting meditation does not make for an awakened person. It is a good start but we need to bring our spiritual life into the everyday world with all that occurs. To be less concerned and captured by the everyday world. When we do engage more in our spiritual awareness with our worldly going-ons, the two merge as one.

First we must have compassion and unconditional friendliness with oneself. This unconditional friendliness means having an unbiased relationship with all the parts of your being. This does not mean pampering or promoting our neurosis.

The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, when things are falling apart for us. Unconditional friendliness, (unconditional), means sticking with ourselves honoring ourselves, when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness to others. The message is that when those feelings emerge, this is not a failure. This is where we grow.

And we work on cultivating the completely wide-open heart and mind. Without labels of “you” and “me,” “enemy” and “friend,” it is always here. Cultivating an Awakened Heart means having a relationship with the world that is non-conceptual, that is unprejudiced, having a direct,
unedited relationship with reality.

That’s the value of sitting meditation practice. Train in coming back to the unadorned present moment again and again. Whatever thoughts arise in your mind, regard them with equanimity and you learn to let them dissolve. There is no rejection of the thoughts and emotions that come up; rather, we begin to realize that thoughts and emotions are not as solid as we always take them to be. We appreciate and experience our emotions, but we do not get overwhelmed by them.

We continue to make the right effort, we study, meditate and contemplate our experience, and most importantly, put our best self forward again and again, taking right action. We go from nowhere, to now-here.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.
Heart Of Recovery web site  —  fcheartofrecovery.com