Monday, August 11, 2008

The Gap, defined by Pema Chodron

Breaking through our constant ego involvement is like a tiny bird, all cramped and twisted inside an egg, beginning to peak at the egg shell that he's feeling claustrophobic in. The situation could be better but it's SO hard. Of all the Tibetan Buddhists who write about meditation Pema Chodron is the clearest voice, the one I find mosst inspiring and understanding. In the current Shambhala Sun, the quarterly from Canada, she has a teaching that makes it SO easy. She writes of a GAP -- just three breaths, any time, any place, just THREE breaths during which you pause in your thought, pause and be where you are. Period. Simple. Pause. She says:

Any moment you could just listen could put your full attention on the immediacy of your experience. ... You could just be here. Instead of being not here, instead of being absorbed in thinking, planning and worrying, instead of being caught up in the cocoon, cut off from our sense perceptions, cut off from the power and magic of the moment, you could be here... As soon as you do, you realize how big the sky is how big your mind is.

Why do we need/want to make gaps in our routine? Don't we need every waking second just to get along? Don't we need to plan and worry and dream and get on with life? Or do we waste a lot of time in mental static? From insight, I know I have an awful lot of mental static, reverie that some yoga books call"the chattering monkey." I think I've got a family of monkeys chattering in there. When I realized that was when the idea of meditation began to be appealing. But those old mental habits -- the cocoon, she talks about, which I think of more as an egg shell -- is hellishly hard to break out of. THREE BREATHS! I can do that sitting on the subway, drinking coffee, in a bathtub, doing yoga, whatever. As Pema says at the beginning of the article, "you know you will die but you really don't know how long you have to fulfill the potential of your precious human birth."

Shambhala Sun is a quarterly magazine, I find it is more down to earth than most others. This issue, September 2008, has an excellent article about dealing with climate change, offering new ways of thinking -- and if any problem needs new ways of thinking that is it. I'm savoring this magazine as I rarely savor the several I read, I imagine I'll be quoting a few other articles soon. Meanwhile I am trying to make gaps -- pecking away at what seems an enormous task of making a little hole in that egg shell.

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