If today were a dream it would go something like this:
I find myself standing on a stage in a play in front of an audience. I am supposed to speak my lines. But I don’t know my lines. Everyone is looking to me to say my lines so they can do their thing but I don’t know my lines. I stand there on the stage in front of everyone like a deer in the headlights.
So yeah. I was the precentor (bell ringer, and the person who was supposed to lead the chanting) for a meditation retreat today. Only, I’ve never really done this before and I didn’t know what to do. That was awkward.
Regardless, it was a good day and a nice retreat. Nobody really noticed, it turns out. Or if they did they were OK with it. It was my own ego that had the problem. It was an interesting and humbling day.
Both gain and loss, and right and wrong –
once and for all get rid of them.
When you are no longer asleep,
all dreams will vanish by themselves.
– from Affirming Faith In Mind by Kanchi Sosan Zenji (the poem we chanted today)
“This is the essential difference between ordinary anger and wrathful compassion. Ordinary anger is motivated by fear and aversion; wrathful compassion is motivated by love that has the courage to confront people for their own sake. Anger seeks to protect the self, or one’s own self-righteousness. Wrathful compassion seeks to protect all others, by challenging what harms them. The difference is quite clear.”
– John Makransky, “Aren’t we right to be angry?” from Tricycle Magazine.
Just came across this article. I spent half of the weekend full of anger and I am not sure it really did anything good except make me feel miserable. The love and connection I felt on Saturday felt much stronger and more powerful.
Just some thoughts in my on going struggle to cultivate equanimity.
I don’t know about anybody else but the upcoming election and the news around it has spun me into a state of anxiety, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a very long time. My mind is racing and I can’t get a proper night’s sleep. Combine this with the fact that it’s “that time of year” and I’ve not really been myself lately.
Depression is a sneaky bastard. Lately I will be in the middle of a really horrible, self depreciating thought and something will make me come to my senses and I will realize, “Oh, I’m in a depression. And depression lies. OK. this makes sense now.” It’s at that point when I change my approach to self compassion and doing the things that I need to do as my brain works it’s way out of this sate.
This happened to me a couple of days ago. As I was realizing the state I was in I was thinking about how I do stupid things when I’m depressed, and I do them because my brain is telling me lies. I get worked up emotionally about delusions and then I act on those emotions sometimes and then I have to deal with the aftermath of these actions.
I realized that I have a tool to help me through this! The Precepts. I am so grateful for the precepts. I have come to look at them as like a kind of roadmap to life. When I am in this deluded state I can look to the Precepts to help guide me to the right action, regardless how I feel. I can trust that whatever action I take, if it is based on the Precepts, things will be alright. If nothing else, I won’t have to deal with the karma of my bad actions on top of the terrible feelings of despair that go along with depression.
Just having this realization has made me feel a lot better.
As a side note to myself, In light of this realization, I think I am going to make zazen a priority. I have been having a hard time motivating myself to meditate and that’s bullshit. All of the precept study in the world does nothing if I am not regularly practicing zazen everyday.
This week’s Lesson: everyone’s a stranger. *
*In a good way. I am doing Precept Study at my zen center and the precept we worked with this past week is: “Do not dwell on past mistakes — create wisdom from ignorance.” In a book I’m reading the author interprets this precept with the statement: “I take up the way of meeting others with openness and possibility.” I like the idea of meeting everyone with a blank slate. Because, honestly, the person standing in front of you is not the same person who stood before you yesterday (even if they appear to be).