This article is this week's New Beginnings Blog, which Cheri is writing from the Monastery's new home in Sequim, WA.
Seems to me about the most pernicious ploy of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate is the belief that we should know what we could not possibly know. When presented with a possibility deemed “pleasant” or “positive” (let’s have the party in the garden!), we’re given a rosy view of how absolutely perfect that will be. The fact that it could rain or snow or be hot and sultry or mosquitos will have just hatched or the neighbors have picked that day to repave their driveway or any of dozens of other “that could happen toos” never occur to us. Despite countless examples of rosy turning disastrous and disappointing, we fall for ego’s cheery illusions again and again.
If a person doesn’t go along with the “oh, it’ll be perfect” side of the duality, they’re in danger of being labeled negative or gloomy, depressing to be around. The ego con here is that life as life is can’t be wonderful on both sides of the duality. If we accept that life is perfect both when we’re getting what we want and when we’re not getting what we want, ego will have a rugged time causing us to suffer. In fact, it won’t be able to! Happy regardless = end of suffering.
(Of course, being the world of opposites, when a situation is imagined as unpleasant or negative, we get only the bad news—very familiar, no examples required, yes?)
But, c’mon, let’s be realistic here. We can’t just be happy with life no matter what! That’s ridiculous. Impossible.
It is ridiculous until we focus on the key phrase in that last sentence, “happy with life.” As long as what we’re going for is “ego being happy getting what ego wants, which is all the attention whether circumstances are positive or negative,” then being happy with life as life is is an absurd notion.
We go from absurd to truly unacceptable when we have to face the reality that 1) I don’t know what will happen, and 2) I can never know what will happen. I can noodle myself into insomnia. I can make giant lists of pros and cons. I can bore senseless everyone I know in my efforts to gather information to “make the right decision.” But even if I exhaust myself in the process, I still won’t know. And, I won’t be any closer to realizing how life actually works.
The story of the old farmer, his son, and his horse is referenced so often because we all know the truth of the story. What we don’t do is to get ego’s imaginary paws off our life for long enough to prove to ourself that 1) we can save incalculable amounts of time and energy (not to mention avoid enormous amounts of unhappiness) by not trailing ego around through imaginary pasts and futures, and 2) we can be perfectly happy in every moment we’re not listening to ego tell us how we need things to be to be happy.
The bottom of the blender cracked (the part that twists on to hold the gasket and mixer piece in place). Oh, no, that’s terrible. Maybe yes, maybe no. I had gorilla glue. Oh, good, that’s wonderful. Maybe yes, maybe no. The glue stuck the part to the counter. Oh, no, that’s terrible. Maybe yes, maybe no. I pried the part off the counter without breaking it again. Oh, good, that’s wonderful. Maybe yes, maybe no. The glue held until the morning after the replacement part arrived. Oh, good. That’s wonderful.
I can stop that story here because, for me, with that last line the adventure went from “well, this is fun and interesting” to “that’s kinda miraculous.” Could I have been fine without that blender for a few days? Sure. But that’s not how it went. And, when we’re happy with life however life is we get to take in the miracles. Because, as we often hear in practice, Life has way better in store for us than ego could ever imagine, even if ego wanted what’s best for us, which it emphatically does not.
From the category of “examples of live and learn/lessons in loving to love learning,” yes, it can be too wet to mow, but it is apparently never too wet for weeds. Perhaps there are weeds that can be drowned, but they’re clearly long gone from here and those who adore soggy have moved in. We’ve been waiting to mow the area around the house for many weeks now. Each time we schedule, there’s another spate of rainy days. The good news is that the new little shrubs are growing like the weeds. Trees are a bit slower and the weeds are winning that race. The even better news is that we moved here precisely so we would have all this water.
I am fascinated by how aspects of life come together perfectly that I neither knew were aspects nor were fated to come together. For eight months now I’ve been alone in this giant house. The hermitage I called home for twenty years would fit in the living room/kitchen of this place. Two giant rooms and one giant garage are all empty downstairs. What do they make possible? A place to receive two huge truckloads of our monastery possessions! Perfect. Pictures of that epic adventure next time,
We have a new Zen Center and Living Compassion address:
PO Box 166
Sequim, WA 98382
The courtyard gets a haircut.