Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


our basic goodness, metta, and the Golden Rule

At some point, we need to stop identifying with our weaknesses and shift our allegiance to our basic goodness.

~ Pema Chodron

I love this directive. And I especially like that it comes from a Buddhist thinker I so admire & respect. Because this, it seems to me, is the heart of the difference between Buddhism and many other wisdom traditions.  Buddhism starts from the premise of an old song I also love: If I love myself enough/ loving you won’t be so rough. One of my deepest beliefs is that the Golden Rule means zip if you don’t begin w/ strong self-love and acceptance.

via wikimedia

via wikimedia

And yep: that’s the heart of the matter, right there. It’s what Buddhists & Quakers have in common (a lot of Quakers I know are also Buddhist, a fact that puzzled me until I learned more about Quakers) — the belief that there is an inner light/ Buddha nature in everyone. And — Buddhists would add — everything.

Today, as I stretched my arthritic joints on the deck, beneath the breathtaking Oklahoma sky, w/a chorus of wrens & cardinals to serenade me, I thought (as I often do) of how much the world is filled w/ beauty. Even arthritis can’t mess that up.

What my frail human status can do, however, is remind me that it’s all so very ephemeral: spring, the wren, even the arthritis. If I sit in the sun, then stretch, I’m better. It’s that simple. But if I beat myself up I’m so stiff… it hurts to move… oh woe is me I’m a mess. And sometimes (true confessions time) I AM a mess. :)

heartbreak

via Google

But knowing that, and forgiving myself for it — picking my bruised beginner’s heart up off the floor of self-loathing — I am far better equipped for empathy. Which is, I think, just another word for compassion. For metta, or lovingkindness. All branches of the same root, as I see it. (But ask your teacher — just another beginner’s heart, here.)

After all, how can I love someone I don’t know if I can’t love the person I know best…myself? If I can’t find it in me to forgive myself for my many flaws (I don’t say faults, as the geology of fault lines and splitting into pieces is NOT a good analogy), how can I love anyone at all? We’re all so damn human! I.e., flawed, the natural state of human beings. Like precious stones, w/ inclusions, but still so very beautiful.

So I’m working — gently and as kindly as I can remind myself to remain — with an aging, creaky body that bears only the vaguest resemblance to my mind’s picture (firmly set in my 30s, I’m afraid…!). I’m firm w/ my practice — my writing, for instance — but kind. Kind is grossly underrated. Well, except for the Dalai Lama — HE certainly gets is!

Do yourself a favour today: be as gentle with yourself as you would be with a lovely child. Be as helpful, as patient, as kind. Focus on your many strengths (I write well. I’m a good teacher. I can cook. I love deeply and with eyes open.). It will make you nicer to everyone else, as well. Which will bring you (& all the rest of us) joy. How simple is that?



Previous Posts

day 26 in a month of Thanksgiving: cranberries, turkey, and pie...oh my!
The pies are cooking for tomorrow. All the house smells of butter crust and pumpkin filling. In the 2nd fridge there's a medium-sized turkey, with a ham still to be picked up. I'm fielding calls regarding what els

posted 4:01:14pm Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

day 25 of Thanksgiving month: gratitude in the wake of #Ferguson
Today, in the wake of Ferguson, my beginner's heart is breaking. There seems so very little to be grateful for. I wasn't even going to write. And then I thought -- there is one sad, terrible thing for which I am gra

posted 10:57:00pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: getting ready (or not...)
I'm not at the 'in the pie pan' stage yet, but I did make the dough today. My family is BIG on pie, and especially at Thanksgiving. (Countdown: 3-2-1...) I think my beloved could eat an entire pie b

posted 3:47:13pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

day 23 of Thanksgiving month: soundtracks
The other day I wrote about how much I love music, how it's one of my everyday gratitudes. Which set me to thinking: what would my life's soundtrack be? What would I like to exit to? You have to realise: I pick

posted 6:07:08pm Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

day 22 of Thanksgiving month: the kindness of strangers
Today's gratitude is slightly abashed. I'm grateful for kindness -- even my own, actually. And abashed that it's noticed so...noticeably...? Because if just joking w/ the Starbuck's barista, and teasing her about

posted 10:42:50pm Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »




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