Continuing from yesterday’s guest post, here is more from JJ Simon:
In Buddhism there are many practices for cutting away habitual responses and connecting to our existence. There are practices for relating to impermanence, egolessness, humility, loving kindness, compassion and emptiness. Here are a few that I use in my life to help me connect to my reality and work with my habits. In Tibet and India Meditators would go to Charnel grounds (places where bodies were broken apart for funerals) to meditate on impermanence. Pema Chodron has said the closest thing to that in the modern world would be a hospital. Since we can’t go and meditate in the middle of the emergency room I came up with a practice from a natural reminder. Road kill! When I see road kill it brings me back to attention. I say a prayer for the being and I remind myself that I too am going to die. My fate is no different and even the causes could be the same. I see my body dissolving to dust and I let it go. I do this for a few minutes. My world has provided me an opportunity to be present. To practice contemplating my own impermanence and to work with my fear of death.
I own 2 cats and 2 dogs. At times they can be annoying. I have a cat that likes only me and it pesters me for attention. My habit is to give it a little pet and then push it away and go about my business. One day I started paying attention to just petting the cat. I took my attention from the cushion and I used it to experience the cat, its fur and the way it moved when I pet it. Then I began to reflect on the idea that this was an opportunity to be kind. The cat was providing me an opportunity to experience love and kindness and to work with my habits of impatience and lack of tolerance. I pet the cat…..I pay attention…..I send a thought of thanks to the cat for providing me with the opportunity to be consciously kind……I pay attention to my emotions…..I pet the cat. I begin to make this a practice. Soon it had spilled over into my personal relationships. I would be sitting with a friend and something would bring me back to attention. I would acknowledge the opportunity to be kind, to engage in a friendship. I would send a thought of thanks to my friend or my wife. My world has provided me with an opportunity that allows me to practice Attention, Loving Kindness, Gratitude, and Patience by simply petting a cat. If I did this on auto pilot like I have done through out my life there would be no connection. Instead I took the practice of Attention off of the cushion where I learned it and I applied it to my reality. The reality that is happening all the time and I’m given a blessing by a small annoying cat!
In the end, the questions of enlightenment, Holiness, and Spiritual Perfection are best left to the experts. Even I f I was blessed by every Guru in the world it would still be up to me to do the work. So we should work to make our life our practice. Take teachings when we can. Build our meditation up from short periods to daily practice and then long term practice; but none of it will do anything if we can’t bring it in to our world and be a holy person at the bottom of the mountain.
Good luck and remember train smart.