For the month of November, our theme is A Path With Heart,by Buddhist author Jack Kornfield. The subtitle of the book is A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. It is a delightful book with moving stories, insightful practices and practical information. It is about loving every aspect of ourselves --warts and wonders.
Kornfield wisely points out the need to bring kind attention to all the parts of ourselves. He especially emphasizes bringing loving attention to our wounds.
He writes: "The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are. To follow a path with heart, we must understand the whole process of making war, within ourselves, how it begins and how it ends. War's roots are ignorance. Without understanding we can easily become frightened by life's fleeting changes, the inevitable losses, disappointments, the insecurity of our aging and death, Misunderstanding leads us to fight against life, running from pain or grasping at security and pleasures that by their nature can never be truly satisfying.
Our war against life is expressed in every dimension of our experience, inner and outer."
He goes on to say:"Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend tremendous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death and loss, and hiding from the basic truths of ...our own nature."We are taught to be brave. To not let feelings show. To act "like a man."
All the time we are making ourselves wrong for whatever is going on within us,we are at war with ourselves. There is always tension, concern. Yet all beings will experience loss, death and pain. Long ago I learned that pain was certain but suffering is optional. However, denying our suffering simply intensifies the pain. try it right now. If you are experiencing any tension or discomfort, simply accept it. Let it be. I usually notice that it slips away.
Kornfield gives an example of a man who was grieving over the death of his child several months previously. The man came to this retreat with sacred symbols from each of the previous retreats. He clearly was struggling. Kornfield suggested that the man put them all away and simply be present to whatever was going on within him. Within a few minutes he was crying. After a few minutes more he was sobbing, truly experiencing the grief that he had been avoiding. That experience was the beginning of his healing. he stopped the war and let the peace begin.
Is there something you are avoiding by your busyness? Is there something you need to feel to be truly present? Is there a part of you that you have been ignoring because it may feel too risky to feel it?
The time is now to stop the war. Call in the troops. There is no need to defend or attack. Wayne Dyer used to say,"You can't take sides in a world that is round." Stop making any part of you wrong. War ends today.