We free ourselves from what offends us by dropping the need to make others responsible for not being how we think we should be.
~Ayya Khema, “Facing the Mirror,” Lion’s Roar
When I was a child I had a book with a story that alternated between something happened that was good, which led to something that was bad, which led to something that was good, etc. The illustrations, if I remember correctly, were done in blue and black ink, and one included, again, if I remember correctly, a small plane having crashed into a house. (No one was hurt.)
This book came up in my sangha last night, where we were discussing Buddha’s Three Liberations and the dismantling of the self (for which I always have an image of someone removing one limb at a time and putting it down, gently, on the floor around herself).
What’s funny about it is that the book itself is very Buddhist. How we don’t really know what it is we’re looking at, nor what it implies, basically ever. One of my categories is even “It’s Never the End!”
It makes me wonder if I’ve been cultivating this Buddhist approach to life my entire existence, and am only just now realizing it.
Anyway, I can’t remember what the book was called. There are several out there in a similar vein, and I have to say I was somewhat amused and surprised by the results of a duckduckgo search for “children’s book it was a good thing it was a bad thing.” (Maybe don’t go there unless you have a very wacky, dark sense of humor.) But if any of you have a memory of this book — it would have been from the 60s I think — I would love if you could point me in the right direction.
One line from Thic Nat Han’s book “Old Path White Clouds” that really resonated:
You already are whatever it is you’re searching for.
“I hadn’t known that I assumed he would wait there forever in that white bed below his window. I hadn’t known I needed him there. Like a landmark, a pyramid-shaped stone or a cypress, that we assume will never move. So we can find our way home. And then, inevitably, one day–it’s gone. And we realize that we thought we were the only changing thing, the only variable, in the world, that the objects and people in our lives are there for our pleasure, like the playing pieces of a game, and cannot move of their own accord; that they are held in place by our need for them, by our love. How stupid.”
“Less,” Andrew Sean Greer
Just finished this wonderful novel by Ruth Ozeki.
I won’t spoil it, but there are a few things I highlighted that seemed worth sharing here.
Comparing reading typed text and written:
“Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.”
“…but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”
“Both life and death manifest in every moment of existence. Our human body appears and disappears moment by moment, without cease, and this ceaseless arising and passing away is what we experience as time and being. They are not separate. They are one thing, and in even a fraction of a second, we have the opportunity to choose, and to turn the course of our action either toward the attainment of truth or away from it. Each instant is utterly critical to the whole world.”
“The ancient Greeks believed that when you read aloud, it was actually the dead, borrowing your tongue, in order to speak again.”
“…not-knowing keeps all the possibilities open. It keeps all the worlds alive.”
If you haven’t read it yet, get thee hence.
Last night as I was waiting to fall asleep, I had what seemed almost like a moment of enlightenment that included the knowledge that my “hold” on living was a conscious one, something that could be let go of at any time. I walked up to the edge and peered over, feeling all of those things that cause suffering — regrets, disappointments in my self and others, worry — drift away. A few moments later I felt the slight panic I often feel in the middle of a hot flash, and sat up, desperately, as if some part of me said “No. Not yet.” I lay there then for a while, wondering if I could just let go of all that suffering while I keep hold on the living.
Now of course it’s entirely possible, likely in fact, that I was just dreaming. But the rest of it seems like something to try.
I’m going to put this here partly so I can find it again, and partly because I think it’s really interesting, true, and important (which is basically why I want to be able to find it again).
Only click if you don’t mind gratuitous swearing. I love Mark Manson, but he does have a bit of what my mother would call a “potty mouth.”
Also thinking that the best place to start is to turn all that unconditional love on oneself. [Ommmmm…..]
From “The Famished Road,” by Ben Okri
“…Could these be the reason why I wanted to be born – these paradoxes of things, the eternal changes, the riddle of living while one is alive, the mystery of being, of births within births, death within births, births within dying, the challenge of giving birth to one’s true self, to one’s new spirit, till the conditions are right for the new immutable star within one’s universe to come into existence; the challenge to grow and learn and love, to master one’s self; the possibilities of a new pact with one’s spirit, the probability that no injustice lasts forever, no love ever dies, that no light is ever really extinguished, that no true road is ever complete, that no way is ever definitive, no truth ever final, and that there are never really any beginnings or endings?”
Ah, he asks the tough questions, doesn’t he.
Just joined a meditation/mindfulness group this week. Last night was my first visit. An hour of meditation. I think there might have been 2 minutes of all the little fragments added together where I was only “thinking” about my breath. But I guess it’s a start.
The hour also didn’t feel like seven, so that must mean something.
We were just emailed the subject of the next two weeks, with this blog post attached.
Last night’s guided meditation (after the hour of “just” meditation) was on equanimity. Recognizing that all things rise and fall, and reminding ourselves to observe those things with compassion and balance. I spoke during the discussion on the freeing revelation I had a couple of years ago that I can actually care a great deal about the happiness of the people I love; but that I am not personally responsible for it beyond my own actions.
This sentence from the lionsroar post speaks to me profoundly today as well:
“We free ourselves from what offends us not by turning away from the people with these faults, but by dropping the need to make others responsible for not being how we think they should be.”