Continuing on with Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Standing at the Edge,” the lesson I learned in Chapter 5 was powerful. That we are all constantly in free fall. That no one will ever find the moral high ground where we are finally stable and can catch all those falling around us.
It’s more like we are all falling above the infinite groundlessness of life and trying to learn to become stable in flight. And supporting others to become free of the fear that arises from feeling unmoored…
One of my favorite shows is “This Is Us.” You’re almost guaranteed to shed a tear each and every episode. A recent episode involved going over the life story of a character that sort of got short shrift over1 the years – Miguel.
There’s a scene in which a middle age Miguel is receiving good advice from his mom. She offers this great one-liner: “Love is giving your heart without expectation.” Followed by another line that essentially boils down to “stop and smell the roses.” Meaning “enjoy the small things in the sea of life that contains a whole lot of suffering.”
It’s hard to remember to stop and smell the roses. One trick I’ve found is to take a mundane activity that I do daily – mine is raising my window shades in the morning – as a trigger to think about something small from the prior day that I really enjoyed. Training myself to find something small to appreciate after-the-fact with the hopes that I fully appreciate it in the moment when I’m experiencing it…
Continuing on with Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Standing at the Edge,” I learned about the Three Tenets of Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Compassionate Action. Here is a summary of those concepts:
– “Not-Knowing” is the practice of letting go of fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe. When encountering someone suffering, ask “how can I keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions or actions?” and “why do I really want to be of service in this situation?” “Do I have what it takes in this situation to truly serve?”
– “Bearing Witness” is the practice of being present for the suffering and the joy of this world. Bearing Witness is not about being a bystander; it’s about being in a relationship and it’s about courage to face the whole catastrophe. Practice helps here to be aware of your own responses in the face of another’s suffering and having the equannimity and compassion required. Returning again and again to being grounded.
– “Compassionate Action” is action that arises from Not-Knowing or Bearing Witness and that fosters the healing of ourselves and the world as a path of practice. Grounding really helps here to discern which action might best serve the situation – including whether doing nothing is the most compassionate response.
Another lesson I learned is the difference between helping, fixing and serving. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. A teaching by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen…