It is difficult to be born as a human being,
and once born, life itself is hard.
It is difficult to hear the teachings of pure Dhamma,
and so it is hard for an Awakened One to appear in the world.
Dhammapada verse 182.
We are here.
One practice worthy of our greatest effort is that of gratitude. Although we sometimes feel that life can be hard and unrelenting it is still a fact that everything we have ever met since the first moment of birth has brought us to this place now, for better or for worse.
It is gratitude that allows us to value our story and to appreciate the Dhamma journey that we are taking, for nothing is without consequence.
However, to be grateful is not a command as we might receive from our parents when we are children, rather it is a Dhamma reflection; the recognition that whatever occurred in the past brought us to this moment now on our Dhamma journey. Also, as gratitude is a joyful movement of mind and the moment it is awake in the heart we cannot feel angry or unhappy, and so we can only share the benefits of this beautiful state of being.
The basis of gratitude then is acceptance. To recognize that the reality of the moment as we meet it, is only the consequence of the mind states we have empowered in the past. It is impersonal in one sense and deeply personal in another.
The world we experience is the one that we create for ourselves moment after moment and this world is always unique and personal to us. No one can enter this personal world as we cannot enter the world of another and so the pain and difficulties that we meet belongs only to ourselves as does our sense of appreciation and gratitude.
To understand the subtlety of the mind we must stop our usual daily activity and surrender. This stopping we call meditation and in our tradition of Pure Dhamma it is known as Vipassana, the way to see things as they really are.
By sitting silently and letting go of all expectation we meet the mind. Our mind. The mind we have cultivated through all these years. This is the most important and necessary practice for without it we will always attempt to justify and rationalize our habit of simply following our thoughts, moods, feelings, emotions and all our desires and opinions like a monkey in a tree, jumping from branch to branch.
It may feel good in the moment, but it's direction is always circular, leading us back to the same old and familiar place. We judge our life on our old story filled with its habits of accepting and rejecting and so what we consider to be hard or difficult is only valued by this comparison.
Reflect, what you consider to be uncomfortable or frustrating may not mean anything to anyone else and what you consider to be attractive or useful may leave others completely uninterested. So the teaching is always the same.
Relax, be patient and just do what you're supposed to do.
One day you will look back on the difficult moments of your life and see the Dhamma value of them.
This is the correct way to train.
May all beings be happy.
We may sit in meditation for many years, but the question still remains, “who is it that awakens?”
Without wisdom there is only intelligence, without love there is only fear.
From 'Buttons in the Dana Box' by Michael Kewley.