Ok I must admit, I have be having a lot of difficulty preparing for Thursday night talks since this election. I like practicing around a framework of intention but lately I’ve been unable to come up with a framework that works within the craziness of our current political climate. The only thing that made any sense to me was the reality of kindness I felt during the Women’s March and the stories of kindness from every March all over the world. I’ve tried to write several posts since the Women’s March but I couldn’t bring myself to turn towards anything but kindness. So I have been living in a state of avoidance.
A friend of mine and I had breakfast recently and she asked me what brought me to the Dhamma. I shared with her the first book I ever read on Buddhism (which ultimately became like a bible to me) – Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa. I read this book cover to cover over and over for ten years. That conversation with my friend reminded me of why I am so resistant to turning from kindness. The book is a Tibetan practice book but it is profound at cultivating loving-kindness. I am completely resolved that the greater our capacity for loving-kindness the stronger, healthier and wiser we exist as human beings. So while I am not an expert on Tibetan meditation nor even a low level practitioner, I would like to use this book as our framework. The book consists of 59 slogans and Trungpa’s commentary/explanation of how to practice with them. These slogans are not easily accessible, especially upon a first read. They take quite a bit of contemplation and practice. But as my mind loosened and my heart expanded I learned to touch into a level of kindness that has supported me for 20 years.
This week we’ll explore our first slogan: Regard all Dharmas as Dreams. According to Trungpa “[this] means that whatever you experience in your life – pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, grossness, refinement, sophistication, crudeness, heat, cold or whatever – is pure memory [or phantom].” The way we practice with this slogan is to consider that “although we think that things are very solid, [we practice being able to] perceive them as soft and dreamlike”. It is not about being fuzzy, indifferent or uncaring. It is about softening our rigidity around our mental perception of life so we have the capacity to actually show up. What do you think life would look like if you saw the shifting nature of everything? What if you knew with unshakeable conviction that nothing was solid, absolute, invincible? How much time do you spend in the mental commentary of life versus actual experience? What effect do you think softening around the mental will have on your experience of life? We’ll explore these questions further on Thursday. See you then..