3P Random Reflections Blog
I have been getting the sense more and more that "diet" has nothing to do with a focus on what I eat, but with a focus on awareness or perhaps "an aware intention" toward
something as simple as the feeling of love...
...The beauty of appreciation of a tightly flowered head of purple green broccoli
...the heavy denseness and beautifully irregular shapes of garden grown tomatoes
...the hole-y leaves of kale partially shared with bunnies and butterflies
...the produce from a farmer or fisherman who's love for life itself tumbles out into the abundance of forms lovingly arranged on her roadside stand
of a bouquet of rainbow chard with its yellows and reds and whites and purples
...the little bit of rich earthy soil and creatures on the skin of a carrot that make their way into my salad
...and even the love for my life and reverence for my incomprehensibly miraculous body that somehow turns food into life, no matter what I choose to eat.
There's a feeling in all of that that I can easily follow and make choices from... it is slow, it is quiet, it is wonder and wonder, it is awe-full, it is contemplative and prayerful, it is "from scratch", it is incredibly
simple, it is bare, it is fresh, it is local, it is natural, it is un-added to, it is deeply connected, it is subtly and yet immensely rich.
There's a completely different feeling in quick, in processed, in boxed, in canned, in sterilized, in frozen, in refrigerated, in micro-waved, in "perfect-looking", in packaged, in plastic-wrapped, in shipped and shelved, in sprayed, in commoditized,
in maximized, in efficient, in marketed, in rushed, in convenient, in enhanced.
Just in that feeling, I don't have to know anything
about calories or fats or sugars or vitamins or minerals or points or numbers, other than perhaps what my body occasionally draws my attention to. Instead I just look for and feel the love and beauty and joy and humour and magnificence in all the food before
me... and when I do, the choice is always ridiculously obvious and simple.
And when I make choices in all my many moments that are
blindly habitual and much less aware, I remember that I am human, and I laugh, and my soft squishy jiggly belly laughs right along with me.
With Love and Laughter,
I don't experience this very often, but...
I am feeling moments of sublime clarity, I hold great compassion for those burdened with financial wealth and possessions and power in our current society. The weight of it all must be suffocating. And the inevitable disconnection from humanity must be so
harsh and isolating.
I have had experiences of realizing, "Oh, if they only knew what I knew, they would see through the illusion
of the need for more, they would live much simpler lives, and they would be motivated by love instead of fear." And, in a deeply profound way, I have seen that their suffering is my suffering, and mine is theirs.
Of course, I would guess that most of them don't have the same sense of this, and possibly have little or no understanding of the depths of their suffering. They're "living the
dream", so how could it be otherwise? And so I imagine that with any of the inevitable human feelings of discomfort that arise within, they fashion those feelings into problems in the outside world of form, and then keep coping with the use of their drug of
choice... the ready convenience of money and power, in a society that worships it.
And so what really are the chances that any of
them would ever realize any of this enough to completely change, or to consider the effects of their part in a system of incredible inequity... enough to choose to dismantle the very systems that hold their money and power in place? Who would ever voluntarily
And what hope is there that I or anyone else could consciously do anything to foster the revelatory insights that would be
required for them to completely change their realities and behaviours? After all, I find it challenging enough just to navigate the ongoing lived integration of my own revelatory insights. And I still easily fall into the same traps that the rich do (and everyone
else)... "if only this were to change, I would feel better", including my desire that THEY change.
But ultimately, I'm guessing that
their spiritual enlightenment is way bigger than my job description. For starters, we don't even hang in the same circles! LOL!
in light of that, what is to be done?
I guess that I can simply keep holding a space that allows for an understanding of their -very
human- suffering... our mutual suffering. We're all in this together in ways we can't even begin to fully comprehend.
I can keep knowing
that any desires that arise within me to demonize them will just do ME more harm.
I can keep finding my own way back to peace, keep
looking toward the bigger picture of the world I want to live in, keep doing the work I'm drawn to in that regard, and keep leaning toward the security of KNOWING the deeper true nature of the human self and of life, which is always "working perfectly" despite
whatever my mind continually reduces it to.
In writing this, it occurred to me how much I spend time thinking about how I want others
to change (including myself), and what could be done to make that happen. That desire probably comes from a career background in human development (a hazard of the job), although I get the sense that pretty well everyone on this planet mostly wants other people
But what if no one had to change?
I wonder if it would be possible for me to never again wish for anyone (including myself) to change?
if my vision of life began to be set from a complete forgetting of the past, where I could only see moving forward together with everyone, exactly as each of us uniquely are, and toward something equitable for everyone... perhaps a type of world I haven't
even imagined yet?
What would be the possibilities of living from that mindset?
And how could I, as a perfectly imperfect human, keep finding a way to lean toward this felt-only, appreciation of what is, and beautifully unclear sense of the future, without ever falling back
into my mind's habit of needing to change what is already past, whether it's situations or people, including the easy-to-point-to 1%?
could it be possible that the most profound change actually comes from not wanting change at all?
I have no idea, but whether this
type of future is with a 1% or not, I'm now genuinely curious about what this would all look like... in work, in service, in community, and in life.
With Love and Laughter,
I used to should myself to death.
I used to carry around all sorts of heavy lists in my head about what I should be doing to be better than I am... To somehow reach some level of something that I thought would be enough.
I wrote a lot of those lists down... daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists, priority lists, dream boards, vision statements, personal missions, motivational messages, meditations, PPTPAs (positive present tense personal affirmations), mantras, resolutions, sticky
note reminders, thought-maps, SMART goals, gratitude jars, journaling. And there were many, many more.
I read tons of books and took lots of courses that told me what lists to create and how to create them, and how incredibly important
they were. They told me how a worthwhile or purposeful or fulfilling life couldn't be lived without them.
I got so good at it, I even began teaching people how to create lists. (God, please forgive me! LOL!)
I created NEVER felt light or fun or joyful or motivational. For me, all the list-making and affirming, just kept documenting ALL the ways in which I wasn't yet enough.
My lists of lists, and the lists themselves were endless.
One day those lists got to be too heavy. I couldn't carry them anymore. I couldn't breathe.
I was crushed under the weight of them.
In that surrender to my "complete and utter
fucked-upness", something new occurred to me... I looked up to see that despite ALL my decades of unmanifested shoulding, my life seemed to be happening anyway.
There was plenty of food, plenty of shelter, plenty to wear, plenty to do,
plenty to see, plenty of work, plenty of relationships, plenty of events, plenty of experiences, plenty of adventures, plenty of good, plenty of bad, plenty of LIFE.
With my head down, always focused on the lists, I just couldn't see what
was right there, right in front of me all along.
My lists were all about lack, while my life actually being lived was all about abundance.
Despite the navel gazing angst of my inner world, at a significant level, my
outside world was just fine... and in fact, well beyond fine.
I have mostly stopped making lists.
They still appear in my head, but I now know where they come from and what they feel like, so I don't get as fooled
by them anymore.
And you know what?
Life keeps happening anyway. I couldn't stop the complete and utter abundance of it... even... if... I... wanted to.
The only list I have now, is this... stop
making lists, stop comparing, stop counting, stop measuring, stop goal-setting, stop manifesting, stop divining, stop adding, stop collecting, stop reaching, stop visioning, stop dreaming, stop doing, stop buying, stop getting... just STOP... STOP... STOP.
Stop creating all the lists for yourself, and while you're at it... stop creating lists for everyone else too.
Underneath all the mountainous lists of lack, the incomprehensible, plentiful abundance of life rests quietly
and patiently right there, waiting to "roll out in ecstasy at your feet".
Just stop for a moment. And look.
And by the way, don't even attempt to think about making a list of all the things you're looking at.
That alone is not only well beyond enough... it is EVERYTHING.
I was listening to a talk between Pema Chodron (an American Tibetan Buddhist) and Father Gregory Boyle (a Jesuit who runs Homeboy Industries for gang-member intervention and rehabilitation).
Pema Chodron was sharing how she considered
Gregory Boyle to be a bodhisattva, a person who's life is dedicated to relieving the suffering of others.
She also shared the ways in which Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries manage to relieve the gang members' suffering, so that they can
overcome the trauma of their childhood, realize their better nature, and become loving, compassionate human beings in service to their families and communities.
One of the things that caught my attention was Pema's description of suffering.
She divided it into 3 types, including one type that represented the "greatest suffering". This was something I'd never considered before.
One form of human suffering she said, is external... It is the experience of feeling distress from
things such as a lack of food, shelter, resources, employment, or from having a disability or a chronic illness or addiction, or from the loss of a loved one, or from experiencing violence, abuse, natural disasters, catastrophic events, wars, etc.
The second form of human suffering she said, is internal, and directed within... It is the experience of feeling unlovable, unworthy, broken, not enough, less than, discontented with self, disconnected from self, or lacking in some way, etc.
The third form of human suffering she said, is also internal, but directed outward at others... It is the experience of feeling hate, anger, righteousness, wanting revenge, or wanting someone else to suffer, etc. It is seeing another person or group as
less in any way, including less than human. It's the feeling that leads to the action of harming others.
I imagine that everyone feels some version of all of these types of experiences throughout their lives.
pointed out that the third form is the greatest of suffering.
That statement stood out to me because it struck me as true...
Imagine a feeling of pain so great inside us that it can't be contained within us, and so
it gets turned out against our fellow human beings. It isn't just a dislike for a behaviour, but a hatred for the whole of the human being who does the behaviour.
I think this identification of "the greatest suffering" also stood out for
me because of how much anger and righteousness I see on the news, in the media, within politics and public discourse, including my own occasional bouts of feeling it.
When any judgmental feelings arise in response to anyone's behaviour,
I'm often (but not always) aware enough these days to see that it's my thinking that is doing the creating... I'll often recognize my uncomfortably angry feeling not as any enduring truth about the situation, but simply a truth about the limited state of my
mind in that moment.
In other words, whenever I'm angrily or emphatically thinking/declaring what I know, that tight or unpleasant feeling alerts to me that I've lost my curiosity and I'm not seeing as clearly as I can.
And that's already a pretty big thing actually... to have any awareness that "unpleasant feeling = limited thinking", even if I don't yet quite experience the deeper, calmer, clearer feeling of truth of it. Just that, stops me from engaging in the war...
one less shot fired, one less call out to assemble my agree-with-me troops.
What occurred to me also, was something quite lovely in recognition of this "greatest suffering"... in that it applies to me too.
I can, when
feeling my own experiences of anger or righteousness, remember that I am, in that moment, also experiencing the "greatest suffering". The acknowledgement of that, for me, feels like a soft, gentle, loving embrace to my self and my humanity... and in that,
allows my hardened heart to soften.
Overall, I tend to hold a simpler definition of suffering that doesn't divide it into any types, and doesn't connect it to any circumstances.
I see suffering as any internal experience
of painful negative thoughts/feelings that arise, that are believed as truth AND are held onto (focused on, ruminated over, internalized). We all can and do experience pain, but no matter the form of that pain, suffering is NOT inevitable. I guess I sort of
see the inevitability of pain as acute, and it's development into suffering as chronic.
However, I do genuinely appreciate Pema's pointer to this idea of the "greatest suffering". It can offer us a self-compassion whenever we feel anger
arise within us, realizing it's coming from a great internal suffering, even if we don't completely understand it. It can also offer us compassion for others, realizing their anger and behaviours are coming from a great internal suffering, even if we don't
completely understand it.
I wonder how different a world it would be if when anger arose, we all remembered to look toward a lighter feeling and a clearer mind before choosing how best to respond to that pain?
way, after all this talk of suffering, if you need a pick-me-up, the 2 hour presentation and discussion with Pema and Gregory was quite funny, and heartwarming, and lovely...
Responsibility can be a sharp and cutting word, often full of notions of good or bad or right or wrong.
It's just a word, but it holds a great deal of expectation, and judgment, and control.
I used to
use it in my mind like a righteous sword pointing toward "them", and in truth, most often pointing toward "me"...
"I should do this", "They should do that", "I should have done this", "They should have done that", "What's the matter
with them?", "What's the matter with me?", "Why can't I/they just do what they're supposed to do?"
I have much less respect for the word responsibility now... well, at least in the way I used to think of it and use it, as a set of very
specific rules for each individual's required behaviours.
Sometime in 2013, under the unforgiving weight of all my collected swords, I came to such a point of utter futility and exhaustion, that I just gave up the fight. I'd had enough.
Nothing was working. I just couldn't do it anymore. I surrendered.
I sort of realized that, "Well, life has been happening all along anyway, for my 51 years on this planet so far. Why not just accept things as they are and just live? Why
not stop the endless focus on all the things I haven't been able to control or change?"
And so for a while... I just "lived".
A few weeks later, grace appeared.
I can't fully explain this gift
of grace. I've already tried thousands of times, and my words have mostly felt as useless as my swords.
But, one significant part of that gift was that my understanding of responsibility completely changed.
I no longer
see any one person or any one group doing anything in isolation.
What keeps occurring to me is all the incomprehensibly infinite and complex factors that contribute to any and every action or achievement, so that, in a way, I see
that we're all responsible for everything, just by our very existence.
We're all the butterfly's wings, endlessly creating swirling currents of air that become part of the forces of wind that act on the waves to build up the tsunami...
EVERYTHING is connected.
I now feel just as responsible for every bit of the world's successes and wonders as I do for all the world's appearances of racism, and colonialism, and misogyny, and poverty, and consumerism, and war, and violence,
and ecological devastation.
And it's not at all the heaviest of burdens it may at first appear to be... the amusing paradox is that it's the lightest and most free.
It asks of me ONLY to keep noticing with curiosity
and wonder and awe, the something much bigger about life than my mind can fully comprehend...
...And in that awareness, to keep gently and simply "walking as though my feet are kissing the earth", as Thich Nhat Hanh says, with growing
appreciation for how the intelligence of Nature/God/Universe (whatever you wish to call it) can quite capably take care of the rest.
And this "feet kissing earth" doesn't really tell me WHAT I should be thinking or doing. It doesn't tell
me what will have the most or least impact, or what will cause the most or least harm, or what will be the most or least responsible. How could any tiny human, in this vast expanse of ever-changing life and time, possibly ever know?
It just tells me to keep walking in a particular way.
It reminds me of the state of mind from which my best steps will always spring... from a deep well of reverence for all, instead of from a chest of insecure swords pointed at arbitrary
I am still VERY far from living in this state of knowing and doing, but my steps and heart are much lighter. I still have a ready chest of swords, but I'm discovering the joy of appreciating them more and using them
Upon reflection, the swords are really quite beautiful.