Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

a happy birthday for my beloved

happy birthday1

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that my beloved broke his ankle about 6 weeks ago. He was unable to walk these past weeks, since the accident and the surgery. Noooo load-bearing on that foot, the doc said. And believe me: we were NOT happy about it. It’s amazing what you can’t do when you only have a knee scooter to do it on…

He had to move downstairs to the ‘fishbowl,’ as he calls it — the family room (we don’t have a downstairs bedroom). Plus, the showers in the full baths are upstairs. Luckily, we have wonderful family, and they moved our guest bed downstairs for him. We made a ‘recovery’ room of sorts. recovery room for  Glen

Today — his birthday! — the doc gave him a clean recovery ticket at his 6-week checkup. Full weight-bearing on that foot! Whoohoo! What great news!

So, wondering what the tie is to beginner’s heart? Here goes: I’m not this happy for strangers, and yes, I know that’s normal. But I still would like to celebrate for strangers. Because doesn’t beginner’s heart mean I’m filled w/joy — or at least its calmer cousin, happiness — for the happiness of others? Shouldn’t I celebrate their good fortune?

And yes, I do. When I remember. :) So my lesson today is that my good fortune is like everyone’s good fortune, and theirs is every bit as important. Hokey, but true. Today, I wish you happiness and good fortune. That I celebrate! (When I remember…)

the healing comfort of quiet

via flickr

via flickr

When it’s noisy, I can’t think. My mother used to say — I can’t hear myself think!! Now, these many years later, I get it. When the dogs are barking (frequent!), and the phone is ringing, and someone (or 2 someones) is talking? I’m hopeless.

That’s when I want to be sitting on the deck. Just sitting. Not even meditating, but that too. I want to be outside, in the green aerie that’s our deck, surrounded by trees and birds and sky. And noisy as the birds are, it still feels like quiet.

Noise is everywhere, even when you’re not paying attention: “dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers can all reach or exceed 90 dBA.” At 120 dBA, you experience pain… Me? I take ear plugs to the movies. They’re too loud!

So, obviously I’m anti-noise.  When we bought our new dishwasher, we sported for one w/ a low noise rating, even though it was more. And if I could afford a less noisy hair dryer? Believe me, I’d buy one!

artist Leonard Peng, Nautilus

artist Leonard Peng, Nautilus

Until then, there’s the back deck. :) Where the (loud) birds may be noisy to some, but whose bright banter comforts me.

Almost as much as sitting, still, in the spaces between crows calling to each other, and mockers trying to impress each other. I don’t need recent research to confirm the benefits, although it’s interesting.

Finland, for instance, is counting on people paying for silence. Using the image of the country’s  ‘quiet’ as a tourist draw, hoping that the promise of a place where quiet is the norm will lure paying customers.

What I know about silence began w/ my attempts at meditation, just sitting in silence. Of course, the mind (at least mine!) is never quiet. But finding a space in my day for silence became a source of comfort.

via google

via wiki commons

Research, again, bears me out. Silence has a longer impact on the brain that does noise. Noise is forgotten, but silence? Over time, it builds new cells, neurons that are useful. And that, my friends, is amazing. Not to mention the slowing heartbeat, the softer breathing, the settling of tension out of the body.

So I’m voting for silence, w/ my ears. I’m trying to drive w/out music (at least some of the time). And sit on the deck w/out electronics in hand. Because, again, I know it comforts me. Like a cool drink of water in the hot Oklahoma summer. Or a soft warm quilt on a chilly night. The appropriate counter to what ails me. Maybe you, too ~

sitting with suffering

via google

via google

“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?” This is the trick. ~ Pema Chodron

Pain is so subjective. There’s the ongoing pain of my arthritic hands — which can wake me up. But I don’t obsess over it. It just hurts. Then there’s the pain of loss — I miss my mother, my father, my elders, almost every day. That doesn’t ever completely disappear. And don’t forget pain of the moment: a stubbed toe, a cut finger. Which is as short-term as pain seems to get. The buzzy pain of annoyance, the thrum of to-do lists, the papercuts of everyday disappointments.

More painful — at least to me :) — than any of these is the pain of dukkha, the Buddhist term for suffering. All the other kinds of pain are subsumed in dukkha: physical & mental pain/suffering; trying to hold on to what must always change, and the infinitely difficult ‘unsatisfactoriness,’ where life is just… well, hard sometimes. Not enough, in & of itself. ‘Lacking substance,’ the definition notes.

via toolbelts.com

via toolbelts.com

This is where the Buddhist tool belt comes in handy. The tools are less, well, less physical. But no less effective. Tonglen, metta, or maitri, meditation. The ability, as my beloved teacher (even though I have never met her) Pema Chodron says, to ‘sit with suffering.’ Stay present to the pain of loss, grief, disappointment, change.

That is soooo HARD! Something more active — like metta, (lovingkindness), or tonglen (compassion for self & others)? I’m better w/ those. If I can feel like I’m DOING something — breathing in & out through the pain, trying to turn it to good use, offering it up for your pain? Well, that’s proactive. It’s this whole ‘sitting through’ it that’s so very difficult.

But I know the wise Pema Chodron is correct: suffering opens me. IF I can get past the anger that almost always accompanies it. IF we can come through the haze to the ‘other side’ of the pain.

the author's

the author’s

Often pain is twinned w/ anger. And I’m verrry good at anger — a veritable dragon. Appropriate, since I’m year of the dragon. I’m fast to blow fire, and even faster to judge, sadly. So learning to sit w/ my anger (a kind of pain — that of wanting things to be different, to either change back, or change forward), to just sit through it? Wow. Of course that will open me up. I’ll have to just sit there. And I’m no good at this, at all.

That’s my goal these next days: to learn to sit through, breathe through, my pain/my anger. To ‘just sit there,’ & see what happens on the other side. I know my pain(s) will blow away — just like the clouds in big sky mind. But it seems to take an incredibly l-o-o-o-o-n-g time for pain to dissipate, while joy is as ephemeral as smoke.

Still, the dragon isn’t only a fire-breather. The dragon is also a being with wings. And surely, if I learn how to control my internal combustion engine, If I learn how to bank that judgmental fire, I can learn to fly. We’ll see.

 

the rock of the multiplication, and feeding the hungry

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

If I were a Christian, I would be a member of a small church. A very small church indeed, in Tabgha, a small village on the Sea of Galilee. The Church of the Multiplication, where the miracle of the loaves & fishes occurred. Five loaves & two fishes, made many — a familiar parable to most Christians, and definitive (or at least I think so) of the man Jesus.

How many times in the New Testament does it say, feed the hungry…? How often are followers of Jesus asked to care for the poor, feed the hungry, look after the unfortunate, the sick, the needy…?

FREQUENTLY, folks. And Jesus himself does just that, in Tabgha. Please note: not ONCE does he say — spend all your money on tax breaks. Or, help the wealthy. In fact, Jesus says it’s easier to push a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get in to heaven. And he says it in Matthew, Mark, AND Luke. Frequently, in other words. Feed the hungry, which he does at the Rock of the Multiplication, in Tabgha, tradition says.

I’m so OVER ersatz people of faith coming down on the poor. I don’t get it. I don’t get why the poor are ‘undeserving’ of health care, for instance. Why the life of a poor person is worth less than the life of someone w/money. Why poor children should go unfed, under-educated, and live lives ‘less than’ their wealtheir compatriots. And yet, I see it reified all around me, day after day. By (ostensible) people of ‘faith.’

So here it is, one more time: at LEAST 20 times, Jesus says ‘feed the hungry.’ He’s quite clear about it. Even the infamously cranky Paul said to feed the hungry — in both Thessalonians & Corinthians. You may not want to do it, but don’t tell me you follow the teachings of Jesus if you DON’T do it. Because this was almost certainly a deal-breaker.

via wikicommons

via wikicommons

As it is for Islam, where almsgiving to the poor, the needy, the destitute, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, known as Zakāt . As it is Buddhism, where monks & nuns make daily rounds in many countries, depending on the generous charity of the townspeople to feed them. As it is in wisdom traditions from time immemorial, because it is RIGHT.

If you want to argue your political ‘case’ for refusing to honour these religious strictures, that’s your business. But please: don’t pretend it’s part of any religion I know of. Feeding the hungry goes way back, to the earliest times. Like when Jesus multiplied two fish and five loaves. To feed the hungry…

Previous Posts

a happy birthday for my beloved
If you've been following the blog, you know that my beloved broke his ankle about 6 weeks ago. He was unable to walk these past weeks, since the accident and the surgery. Noooo load-bearing on that foot, the doc said. And believe me: we were NOT happy about it. It's amazing what you can't do when yo

posted 5:50:32pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

the healing comfort of quiet
When it's noisy, I can't think. My mother used to say -- I can't hear myself think!! Now, these many years later, I get it. When the dogs are barking (frequent!), and the phone is ringing, and someone (or 2 someones

posted 5:11:19pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

sitting with suffering
"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

posted 6:27:09pm Oct. 18, 2014 | read full post »

the rock of the multiplication, and feeding the hungry
If I were a Christian, I would be a member of a small church. A very small church indeed, in Tabgha, a small village on the Sea of Galilee. The Church of the Multiplication, where the miracle of the loaves &

posted 3:57:43pm Oct. 17, 2014 | read full post »

ch-ch-changes
Ben Franklin is on record as having said, "When you are finished changing, you're finished." I LOVE that. And I heartily agree, although I confess: there are all kinds of change I resist fiercely. I don't like ANY  kind of changes to my schedule -- if it interferes w/'my' time, it's a pain. I'm

posted 9:21:07pm Oct. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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