Chapter 4: The Universal Law of Impermanence
The chapter opens with a beautiful quote from The Buddha:
"Better a single day of life seeing the reality of arising and passing away than a hundred years of existence remaining blind to it."
Toni Bernhard has a practice she calls "Weather Practice" Basically, it acknowledges that thoughts come and thoughts go, just like the weather. You might feel that a certain type of day (or weather) is probable and maybe that's what you get. But storms, they head our way but a wind can cause it to totally miss or hit our city. She talks about not being able to force your mind to think a certain thought and that trying to not think about something is a guaranteed way to think about it. That all sounds logical to me, but where do mantras fit into that thought? Mine lately has been, "I am safe in my house and my mind is at peace." That intentional thought is how I am learning to think about the snake that was outside of my house less and how I am convincing myself to stop searching for it everywhere, inside and outside.
Next, she talks about "Broken Glass Practice". This one, I like. Your glass breaks; you're pissed. Why be pissed? It's glass. It's breaking is inevitable. It was broken from the very beginning, that's just not the form in which you were seeing it. ["Can you prevent something that's breakable from breaking? It will break sooner or later. If you don't break it, someone else will. If someone else doesn't break it, one of the chickens will!" ~ Ajahn Chah as quoted in How to be Sick] Water is ice, ice is water. It's always both. It just appears differently and is in one form or the other when you see it.
I miss my Superman mug. I love that mug. But it was already broken; that was its essence. The man came to the clinic. He was peeved because his daughters spilled tea in his van. But the tea was already spilled; he accepts that.
Chapter 5: Who Is Sick?
"Munindra-ji said, "There is heat here, but I am not hot. There is hunger here, but I am not hungry. There is irritation here, but I am not irritated." Bernhard translate that, "There is sickness here, but I am not sick." That is sometimes a difficult thing to realize-- I am not sickness. I am not fibromyalgia. I am not she who is too tired to do anything that requires substantial energy output. I am weather practice. I guess a life-long question, healthy or not, is "who am I?" How often do you hear or read that question? This is another way of asking that question-- I am not sick, so who am I?
Chapter 6: Finding Joy in this Life You can no Longer Lead
The title of this chapter brings on a spontaneous, "Yes, and I f_cking hate it!" from my insides. Hating, not the finding joy, but the parts of life I can no longer lead. I miss revealing in the idea of hiking and just waiting on the opportunity. I miss so many pieces of my former life....
This chapter talks about the 4 sublime states (brahma viharas). These are the places where we wants our minds to dwell, the place of the enlightened. They are, and I can do nothing but directly quote here:
Metta- loving-kindness (others & self)
Karuna- compassion (others & self)
Mudita- sympathetic joy; joy in the joy of others
Upekkha- equanimity; a mind that is at peace in all circumstances
Mudita is her rock. It's like empathy for positive things, instead of negatives. It's like me looking through a facebook album recently posted by my friend Andrea and smiling ear to ear, having fun by looking at the pictures she took at the carnival. It's like being joyous that she can take hikes through beautiful, hilly areas. It's to feel that joy but not becoming angry or sad because you realize that you are simply watching someone else's life. Mudita happens in my life naturally, as shown by the example that immediately came to mind. Putting it into intentional practice, I'm sure, is much more challenging. "Mundita is a powerful antidote to the poison of envy." What a beautiful quote from Toni's mouth.
The other sublime states are picked up in chapter 7....
How this teaches me Buddhism? I get to learn the sublime states but more importantly, I'm challenged to practice them. I tried using metta or karuna when I was in massive pain last week but I failed miserably. More on that later. I think that Buddhism is much about mindfulness, as are the techniques discussed in these three chapters. The teachings pull one from oneself and instructs one to refocus on the rest of the world. That sure ain't man's instinct. Blessed be.
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