Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bodhicitta - Dharma Series

"Your Mind is Not a Problem"
11.7X11.7in ink & gouache on bristol board

Lately the focus of my Dharma study has been Bodhicitta. I first encountered the word through - surprise, surprise - reading and listening to Pema Chodron. It’s one of those very difficult to translate words because there isn’t exactly a direct translation available. 

Instead teachers point at different words which capture the essence of what Bodhicitta is all about. Pema herself describes it in so many different ways. 

Bodhicitta is awareness of our compassionate nature. Or Bodhicitta is the ability we have to be big enough for our world and our experience. Bodhicitta is our awakened mind. Bodhicitta is our Buddha nature - the nature of all beings to see the world free of reference points. Bodhicitta is recognizeng interconnectedness, or as Thich Naht Hanh says, ‘interbeing’. 

Our ability to awaken Bodhicitta is our ability to show up for ourselves and for others. In order to do this we work with our own mind, with gentleness and dedication. The more we can see our mind, the more we can sit with our experience, and the most honestly we show up for ourselves, the more we are able to open up to others. 

Our minds may seem like the enemy, at times, which is why gentleness is so important. I’ve recently realised I experience anxiety at its worst when I’m being impatient with myself. The more harsh I am about what I’m feeling, the more challenging working with my mind becomes and the more intense my emotions. But when I’m kind to myself, when I see my mind as workable rather than something that needs fixing, the whole experience softens. My heart opens up and I genuinely feel big enough for my life. 

I didn’t come up with the text for this piece. The person who did is incredibly wise and I am so appreciative of the ways she reminds me to be gentle. The moment she said these words I knew they were the ones that would accompany this piece. 

Your mind is not a problem to fix. 

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