Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dharma Series - Embrace all circumstances

Pencil crayon and ink on bristol board

The Interweb is littered with inspirational memes. Quotes or words of wisdom written over serene images of Buddhas or sunsets or flowers. They get shared repeatedly and with great enthusiasm.

The idea is these things make some sort of sense and we agree with them. We can muster up understanding that the words are practical and would improve our outlook and feelings about life.

On the very same wall someone posted a meme about the importance of kindness they will update their status to exclaim how obnoxious other drivers are or how little patience they have for parents who don't discipline their children. On the very same wall where they posted a meme about taking life as it comes and enjoying is as an adventure they will post something about how unfair it is that they didn't get the promotion they wanted or that they have had the promotion and it means they have to travel somewhere they didn't want to go.

We all do it and we do it because we're unaware. We're on some sort of autopilot with these things and even if that meme makes logical sense we haven't actually applied it.

The application is the trick.

It's not easy. It involves breaking habits which involves actually noticing the habits which usually involves admitting that we're meaner or sadder or more self-involved than we would like to admit.

But to truly change our lives, to create a happier, healthier world, we must be active participants and we must work with our own thoughts.

This piece came to me as I was taking a walk one Saturday morning. I have been thinking a lot lately about this idea of the application of wisdom and what that entails.

As I made my way along a path lined with wildflowers and grass I was stopping to pick up wayward snails and place them gently out of harms way. I once condemned snails on the basis that they ate all the lovely plants my was-wife planted. I've since come to think of that as disliking something for the very nature of its being. Blaming a snail for being a snail.

Snails are part of the planet, part of the ecosystem and just as deserving to be a snail as I am deserving to be human.

So I pick them up and move them off the path so they aren't crushed.

It may seem like a little thing but it's a genuine shift in my behaviour and thoughts. I didn't change my thinking over night. I examined it, questioned it, prodded and poked it. It changed of its own accord, as thoughts do if you let them run their course, and even if you don't.

As I stooped to move another snail a fat drop of rain hit the back of my neck. I could have run. I could have grumbled about the weather. I could have worried about my clothes getting wet.

I looked up at the clouds, which rippled with the passing wind, purple in some spots, lit up bright white in others. I continued my walk and felt the coolness of the water and the mugginess of the air. I closed my eyes and took in the scent of the grass and soil around me, the crackle of electricity in the air.

The rain began pouring down in earnest just as I came under the shelter of a tree. I smiled at the fortuitousness of this and watched the rain fall, enjoying how the air cooled around me. It let up enough for me to walk on home, and the words for this piece came into my head.

Embrace life. Embrace it all. Embrace the words on those memes and apply them. Free yourself from resisting the circumstances of your life. Free yourself from expectation.

And you can watch the rain fall as if for the very first time.

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