Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Participate in Your Own Rescue

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

AA022297One of my students shared a story. A friend of hers was on a whitewater rafting trip in Colorado. During the trip, one of the people in the raft fell out into the river. He floundered around passively while the guide attempted to steer the raft towards him. The guide offered assistance but the man remained passive. Finally, the frustrated guide shouted, “Participate in your own rescue!”

There is a key dharma lesson in this story. The Buddha noted that all of humanity is in need of rescuing. Life is suffused with senseless, self-inflicted, stress, misery, dissatisfaction, and suffering.

Salvation does not come from without. Gods and karma don’t seal our fate, but our intentions and actions. He taught a system of self-reliant psychology. Buddhist scholar, Professor Richard Gombrich noted how unique the Buddha’s emphasis on self-reliance was.

“A great deal of modern education and psychotherapy consists of making people aware  that they are responsible for themselves. In fact, we consider that it constitutes a large part of what we mean by becoming a mature person. It is amazing that someone should have promulgated this idea in the fifth century BC, and hardly less remarkable that he found followers.”

How do we participate in our own rescue? First, we must recognize that we have fallen out of the boat and require rescue. Next, we must do what we can not to make the situation worse. We need to pay keen attention to what the moment requires and act on that information. We need to be proactive and move towards the resources that are available.

We can meditate and see how our minds contribute to our sense of disquiet in each moment. We can seek peace in the midst of any situation, even the ones that are not going as we would like. We can choose to swim towards the raft even when the currents are strong and pushing us back. We can have faith that our efforts will prevail.

We will fall out of the boat. There is no way to avoid that. When we do, we can start swimming right away–moving ourselves back towards the moment. Salvation is immanent and available in any moment–in every moment.

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jory Curran

    Thank you Dr. Kozak for this wonderful metaphor comparing drowning to life.
    It is one of the best I have ever read.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rachel Grossman

    The best I have ever read, and pertaining to my life right at this very moment.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Susan Greer

    Such a great story & metaphor. I loved it.

  • http://www.sound-shift.com Ian

    Loved this, Thanks!

Previous Posts

Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
My dharma friend and mindfulness colleague, Elisha Goldstein has a fascinating new book out. It describes the ways that we can harness our own healing power to create natural antidepressants. These five include mindfulness, of course, self-compassion, living in accordance with purpose, play, and a s

posted 12:42:14pm Jan. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Find Your GPS for Success
GPS has become part of our lives. We find it in our cars, our phones, and even in watches (I got one as a gift over the holidays). In any moment, we can know where we are and also communicate that information to others. GPS can be helpful for getting to a destination and lends itself as a metaphor f

posted 11:02:53am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Getting Past the Tyranny of Should: A Timely Message for the Holiday Season
There are many things we "should" be doing around the holidays. We should be happy, merry, and jolly. We should be with family. We should be the consummate hosts. In the course of the day, we might impose expectations, rules, and agendas on ourselves tirelessly. This is the tyranny of should.

posted 10:36:45am Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Finding the Fall Line: The Technique of Practice
As I was meditating this morning, I came up with a new practice metaphor. There were times when I was clearly in the flow of my body, very attuned the myriad body sensations and there were other moments where I was somewhere else or trying to manage some aspect of the moment, almost as if I was tryi

posted 10:13:53am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Prime Time, All the Time
An add for television streaming service Hulu states, "Every minute of every day should be considered prime time." This clever quip has a double meaning. On the one hand, it reflects the tyrannical notion that every experience that we have should be exciting, entertaining, and novel. On the other han

posted 9:31:08am Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.