This week we will take up the last slogan in the section on transforming bad circumstances – Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation. Or Norman Fisher’s version – whatever you meet is the path. Several of the slogans in this section point us back to the cushion. Slogans like transform all mishaps into the path, drive all blames into and even the practicing with the four methods from the last two weeks seem to emphasis the importance or value of turning inward for answers.
I think this is because at it’s core – meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism and/or emptiness – (whatever you call your practice) is about returning again and again to the stability of the breath. All practitioners understand, both intellectually and empirically, that whatever arises in meditation will fade away. Our whole practice is around learning how to let go. We try to release our resistance to the presence of some unpleasantness. We try to observe when we are lost in thought, let go and return to the breath. We try to sense into the felt sense of leaning into pleasure by relaxing and letting the moment pass. Our entire mediation period can become a process of grasping, resisting, thinking and letting go.
But then we get up off the cushion and go about life getting caught up in every little detail or situation that comes into existence. This slogan is about learning to live our lives like we practice on the cushion. What if we were to see the situations and circumstances in our lives as passing thoughts or stories? What if we could observed everyday experiences from unentangled awareness rather than from some entangled web of control? All it takes is a willingness to see all life as meditation.
When you think about it, that’s all that is really happening. Sounds, sensations, thoughts, images all arise unexpectedly in meditation just as with life off the cushion. Learning to let the sounds, sensations, thoughts and images simply rise and fall, appear and pass away is what brings peace and relaxation to our sit. The mind can become gathered and still when it no longer has to chase after every thought, sound, sensation and image. If we were to hold all life in this same manner, we would began to experience the same degree of stillness as we go about our daily activities.
So the invitation is to join whatever shows up in life with your meditation. What do you think the implications of this could be? Do you think it is possible to get as still in your daily activities as you are in meditation? What if you are not still in meditation, do you still bring the unexpected to the cushion? What do you think?