Lama Surya Das.
An elderly nun named Gelongma Phalmo tells the story of her younger days as an assistant to a venerable lama in a monastery in Sikkhim:
More than anything, I looked forward each day to my own quiet time to sit quietly on my zafu. I would get all of my chores done and, just as I would sit, someone would beckon me, "Rinpoche needs you right now." Day after day the same thing would happen. Try as I would to just sit a little, as soon as I sat, I would be called to come.
Finally, I realized I must make everything I do my meditation. And so I did.
With a twinkle in his eye, Rinpoche said that from now on, he would probably not be needing me so often-especially when I was sitting!
That's how Karmapa Rinpoche trained me.
It's amazing how fast the week-long retreat goes. It's Friday already. Sunday we'll be on the street again. Tonight I'd like to talk about dancing with life, integrating the Dzogchen view and meditation into the actions and conduct of our daily life-where it really counts, after all. Enlightenment should show up in behavior, don't you think?
First, how to practice in daily life and bring our awareness practice into life. Secondly, how-from awareness practice-enlightened behavior, impeccable conduct, occurs. Not just trying to be religious, to conform to any particular ideal or style, but how enlightened behavior and unselfish compassion naturally proceed from awareness. For we need not let preconceived notions about what spiritual life should look like tarnish and impede the freshness and spontaneity of our own untrammeled purity of heart and true nature.
When I think about dancing with life, I think about fear, withdrawal, our hangups-our behavioral armor, as Wilhelm Reich called it. The armor that we put on when we were young, probably very young, to protect us; our persona, our personality, our way of managing feelings and coping with things to make them less painful. Of course, it is very easy to be externally spiritual, quiet, peaceful, and lovely here-lovely flowers growing on their little, square seats, in their little pots, and everybody just does what they're told. You ring the bell and everybody salivates and goes to the kitchen like Pavlov's well-trained dogs! And the volume control is down very low here, and the speed is slow. But when we go out of here, the volume goes up a little, and the fast forward button engages, and things get a little faster. And all the pots start bumping against each other like bumper cars at the amusement park. Horns blare and drivers start cursing-then where are you? How are you amidst all of that?
Are we afraid of that? Can we handle that? Are we afraid we're going to lose something when we leave this nice oasis here, our peaceful week-long, protected meditation practice? Can we dance with life, or do we need to stay here all the time? Not just here, like living at Haus Engl, but in the "meditation hall," surrounded by other people who are like us and agree with us on almost everything. Are we willing to go forward, to grow and change, or are we just trying to find the right place to stay, like a peg in a hole, and just stay there, like a safe harbor where we can anchor our boat in a snug little harbor and never be troubled by the wind or the waves? For me, the point of life is not to find a safe little harbor, to anchor where the waves and the wind can't get us. That's a very temporary situation; maybe just to sleep at night or to wait for the big storm to blow over. But our being is a great vehicle meant to enjoy freely the vast sea of being and life. Not just to find safe corners to sit in like a Buddha statue in a niche, like a dog that's been kicked too often. As long as you stay in the corner, you're safe. But what kind of way of life is that? Is that what we bring to our meditation? Is that how we want to carry on in life, as avoiders? I hope we've learned something more than that here. That we don't think that we just have to go out from here and put in our earplugs and eyeplugs and our mindplugs and get home and get back into our meditation room there where it is safe. Enough retreat already. Let's advance. Let's attack, even!
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