I’ve been reflecting on Bhikkhu Bodhi’s words, quoted in the previous post. So much seems to depend on our view, how we frame our activities and reactions in our minds. Do we have a vision for what we want to do, where we want to go? When we start the day, what’s our attitude? What are our expectations, hopes, and fears? Do we scramble around trying to respond to every thought that appears in our minds? Do we drift along, avoiding anything that seems difficult? Or do we start with a sense of confidence that the day will hold opportunities for us to develop our understanding?
We can also feel free or trapped, depending on how we view our situation. Do we feel we’ve got options? Or do we feel boxed in by our own expectations? Is there a sense of being supple, flexible and creative, able to see things in new ways? Or do we feel brittle, as if nothing works as it should?
One thing that Bhikkhu Bodhi pointed out by implication is the importance of knowing what our vision for ourselves is; what’s our intentional, big-picture direction? It could be something as simple as becoming kinder. And then, what are we doing right now? Are our vision and actions in harmony? It takes a lot of attention, but this sort of training can be enlivening. We start to understand that what we do matters, even in the most mundane situations. How we set and adjust our view of ourselves and the world affects everything. Just understanding this has opened a door for me. I know that I have a choice about how to view events. I know I have the freedom to ignore some of my own thoughts. I know that most situations do not require that I become involved in them.
When I do mantra meditation (rarely), this is the mantra I use:
Dukkha – Samodaya – Nirodha – Magga
Suffering – Origin – Cessation – Path
It’s a compressed form of the Buddha’s Four Truths, and it works as a vision, as a way to re-set our attitude. Our suffering comes from clinging, and its end comes from letting go. It’s as simple as that, but we like to complexify things. We think that if we could control our minds and events, we could make everything OK. But it doesn’t work that way. Instead, if we can acknowledge a specific instance of suffering, reflect on it until we see what we’re clinging to that causes the suffering, then we have a chance to release the clinging and end the (specific instance of) suffering. And the Buddha’s eight-fold training will help us in learning and refining that process. That’s the big picture. The work is in the details.