It’s strange how many decades it takes to digest the simplest instruction. So many layers and “ideas” about the instruction have to be peeled off. Our intellectual understanding keeps us in our heads without taking the instruction into our bodies and hearts. Perhaps that’s why Katagiri Roshi said, years ago, that one should practice for 10 years without reading anything.
Katagiri-Roshi, my original teacher, said, “No matter where we are, no matter what we face, like or dislike, we have to take care of this moment. That’s all.”
Another time, he adds, “there’s no escaping this moment.” He also acknowledges how difficult it is to do — to simply accept the moment as it is without commentary or evaluation. He says that we get lost in all the beings that arise in the moment. The many beings of emotions, thoughts, memories, physical sensations, stories, conspire to drag us away from this moment. Stay, Stay, Stay, with the actual sensations of the moment. Actually if we really do stay in this moment, all the beings, the doubts and fears, drop off into the aliveness of what is actually dynamically happening now. How can we learn to stay? Be brave enough to stay. Be strong enough to stay with our moment-to-moment experience?
I have been listening over and over to Tara Brach’s guided meditation of “saying yes to our life.” We say “No” to a lot of things. We resist, fight, evaluate and judge many things we don’t like that arise in our lives. Or, on the other side, we accrue suffering by holding on to and grasping, and wanting more of all that we like. What I have learned this fall, from Tara Brach’s book, is that if I say “no” long enough, I turn that contraction into “there is something wrong with me or my life” and that turns into judgment, shame and inadequacy. She names it the trance of unworthiness. We can break out of this trance by saying “yes” to the experience of life as it is. “Yes” is surrendering. Dropping off our evaluation and ideas about the moment, we can break open the moment to what is true. We can gently say “yes” to all beings.
Opening and saying “yes” to the “now” soften us. It is quite different than the clenching of “no.” There is a gentleness and radical acceptance of our karmic life the way it is arising. There is an acceptance of myself with all my faults and imperfections. That is not to say that we can’t move our life towards wholesomeness. We can turn the dharma wheel by our mindful behavior, but where we start, is by accepting life on life’s terms. We graciously accept our one, precious, very human life and its story. Through that love, we can proceed. We can even hold the “no” in a field of “yes.”
I am contemplating this phrase:
“This too, this too, can be included in my heart.”