to forget all we know

Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly they are passed on unopened.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

there is this moment when you cannot turn away

inquiry for today~ look back on this day as a true beginning….

can’t you see how to be

Often our fears don’t turn out to be accurate predictions of anything. As Mark Twain put it, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes—most of which never happened!” When we become mindful of fearful thoughts, we see that fear is just a story accompanied by dramatic feelings. We don’t have to take the story as truth. As we see the productions of our mind, we discover radical freedom. The Tibetan lama Khyentse Rinpoche explains, “Mind creates both samsara and nirvana. Yet there is not much to it, it is just thoughts. Once we recognize that thoughts are empty, the mind will no longer have the power to deceive us.”

Yet however much we try, sometimes we’re caught in our repetitive thoughts, and knowing about their emptiness doesn’t help. We can obsess for months about a past relationship or about our fear of failure at work. These difficult patterns of thought can repeat and persist, coloring our consciousness so deeply that we can be tormented by them, unable to see without their distortion.

If we pay attention to the feelings underneath these repeated thoughts, there is often unacknowledged or unaccepted emotions, pain or difficulty. It might be a grief or loss that we have not fully acknowledged, or worry or fear, or longing or a thwarted creative impulse. When we let ourselves drop below the thoughts, and sense what is asking for acceptance, our willingness to feel these emotions that have been driving the thoughts often lets them quiet down.

When we are depressed, frightened, or angry, cascades of unskillful thoughts will tempt us with their stories: “I can’t possibly get through this.” “It will always be this way.” “I’ll never have a good relationship.” These thoughts create a painfully limited and false sense of self. Yet through practice, we can feel the pain that these thoughts produce, release them, and substitute a wiser perspective. Ajahn Chah says, “Whatever the mind tells you, don’t fall for it. It’s only a deception. Whatever negative comments and views it offers, you can just say ‘That’s not my business,’ every time, and let it go.” You can say, “Thank you for trying to protect me. I’m OK for now.”

With the letting go of unhealthy thoughts, there arises a space, a calm, an opening to add healthy thoughts of love and self-respect. With all the dignity, courage and tenderness you possess, say from your heart phrases of loving-kindness such as: “May I be filled with compassion for myself and others. May I hold myself with care and respect. May I treasure my life. May I be filled with kindness.” Plant these loving thoughts, water these seeds of well-being, over and over until they take root in your heart and mind.

~Jack Kornfield

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