Spiritual practice is a little easier when things are going well, right? It’s easier to be loving, centered and peaceful when the world is favorable. But when the world is on the wrong side of the 8 worldly winds:
- Pleasure and pain
- Gain and loss
- Success and failure
- Praise and blame
When we are on the negative side, then, we have to deal with our queasy feelings in our torso and guts, moment after moment. Sometimes our kleshas can last for a long time. That’s harder and it requires a great deal of concentration, patience and returning over and over to the moment to practice positively. At these times, we have to guard our minds so fiercely. The mind’s habit is to drag us down the hole of watering our negative seeds. We get off on it actually. In an upside-down way, we somehow like building our anger, anxieties and fears rather than reducing them.
At these times, it is most important to stay in the moment and reflect on impermanence. This too shall pass. To stay in the moment with kindness and patience, using metta phrases that plant the small seeds of wholesome thought. Radical acceptance of the way things are right now can give us a measure of rest right in the middle of our continuing difficulties. Radical acceptance can bring more ease. We practice staying in the timelessness of the moment and reflect on the huge universal perspective.
My husband loves to remind me of Jizo’s stellar qualities. He particularly likes the quality of unflagging optimism, which is Jizo’s beautiful attitude. How can we be unflaggingly optimistic in this crazy world or within our crazy minds especially when things aren’t going so well?
May I be at peace in the ups and downs of life. Really at peace. In this very moment, no matter what, can I rest with things as they are?
Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, “ Touching the Earth, intimate conversations with the Buddha,” writes:
Lord Buddha, I want my practice of mindfulness and my actions of body, speech, and mind to enable me every day to advance courageously on the path of transformation and healing for myself and for the world.
If by chance the negative seeds in me are watered and develop into mental formations, I shall do my best to find a way for those mental formations to return to the depths of my consciousness in the form of seeds. I know that if these mental formations arise frequently, they will quickly grow strong, while if they are allowed to lie still for a long time in the depths of my consciousness they will grow weaker. You have taught us to practice right attention, to bring bright and beautiful mental formations back again into our conscious mind, and to allow them to replace the unwholesome mental formations.
I love the way Thich Nhat Hanh says that our negative mental formations can return to the depths of our consciousness in the form of seeds (returning to the storehouse consciousness, the collective mind) We can unwind the holding of our ideas, views and formations, letting them go back down to the size of a seed and to lie still for a long time within us. Lying still, the seeds will grow weak. That gives me hope and courage that it is possible to find peace in my own life. He calls it maintaining our inner hermitage beyond right and wrong, success and failure.