Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Facts of Life

A fresh attitude starts to happen when we look to see that yesterday was yesterday, and now it is gone; today is today and now it is new. It is like that - every hour, every minute is changing. If we stop observing change, then we stop seeing everything as new. ~ Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

The Buddah taught that there are three principal characteristics of human existence: impermanance, egolessness, and suffering or dissatisfaction. According to the Buddah, the lives of all beings are marked by these qualities. Recognizing these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are.

When I first heard this teaching it seemed academic and remote. But when I was encouraged to pay attention - to be curious about what was happening with my body and my mind - something shifted. I could observe from my own experience that nothing is static. My moods are continuously shifting like the weather. I am definitely not in control of what thoughts or emotions are going to arise, nor can I halt their flow. Stillness is followed by movement, movement flows back into stillness. Even the most persistent physical pain, when I pay attention to it, changes like the tides.

I feel gratitude to the Buddah for pointing out that what we struggle against all our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Life does continually go up and down. People and situations are unpredictable and so is everything else. Everybody knows the pain of getting what we don't want: saints, sinners, winners, losers. I feel gratitude that someone saw the truth and pointed out that we don't suffer this kind of pain because of our personal inability to get things right.

Pema Chodron
The Places that Scare You

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