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Life is Tough. Here Are Six Ways to Deal With It – Part 4

Update: 08/04/2017
So to practice Be grateful to everyone is to train in this profound understanding.

Life is Tough. Here Are Six Ways to Deal With It – Part 4


It is to cultivate every day this sense of gratitude, the happiest of all attitudes. Unhappiness and gratitude simply cannot exist in the same moment. If you feel grateful, you are a happy person. If you feel grateful for what is possible for you in this moment, no matter what your challenges are, if you feel grateful that you are alive at all, that you can think, that you can feel, that you can stand, sit, walk, talk—if you feel grateful, you are happy and you maximize your chances for well-being and for sharing happiness with others.

4. See Confusion as Buddha and Practice Emptiness

The fourth slogan,See confusion as buddha and practice emptiness, requires a bit of explanation. This goes beyond our conventional or relative understanding to a deeper sense of what we are. Though conventionally I am me and you are you, from an absolute perspective, a God’s-eye view, if you will, there is no self and other. There’s only being, and there’s only love, which is being sharing itself with itself without impediment and with warmth. It just happens to look like you and me to us, because this is how our minds and sensory apparatus works. This love without boundary is emptiness practice.

See confusion as buddha and practice emptinessmeans that we situate ourselves differently with respect to our ordinary human confusion, our resistance, our pain, our fear, our grief, and so on. Rather than hoping these emotions and reactions will eventually go away and we will be free of them, we take them to a deeper level. We look at their underlying reality.

What is actually going on when we are upset or angry? If we could unhook ourselves for a moment from the blaming and the wishing and the self-pitying and look instead at the actual basis of what is in fact going on, what would we see? We would see time passing. We would see things changing. We would see life arising and passing away, coming from nowhere and going nowhere. Moment by moment, time slips away and things transform. The present becomes the past—or does it become the future? And yet right now there is no past or future. As soon as we examine “now,” it is gone. And we cannot know how or where it goes.

This may sound like philosophy, but it doesn’t feel like philosophy when you or someone close to you is giving birth. If at that moment you are standing in the delivery room or are yourself, in pain and joy, giving birth—in that first bursting-forth moment, you are amazed.

This small life you think you have been living, with its various issues and problems, completely disappears in the face of the miracle of visceral life springing forth in front of your eyes. Or if you are present when someone leaves this world and enters death (if there is such a place to enter), you know then that this emptiness is not just philosophy. You may not know what it is, but you will know that it is real. You know that this reality is powerful and makes you see your life, and the whole of life, quite differently. A new context emerges that is more than thought, more than concept. When you view your daily human problems in the light of actual birth and actual death, you are practicing with this slogan. Every moment of your life, even (and maybe especially) your moments of pain or despair or confusion, is a moment of buddha.

So do attend births and deaths whenever you can and accept these moments as gifts, as opportunities for deep spiritual practice. But even when you aren’t participating in these peak moments, you can repeat and review this slogan, and you can meditate on it. And when your mind is confused and entangled, you can take a breath and try to slip below the level of your desire and confusion. You can notice that in this very moment time is passing, things are transforming, and this impossible fact is profound, beautiful, and joyful, even as you continue with your misery.

To be continued


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