Wks 5 & 7: Receiving & Gratitude…..WELCOMING

I’m going back a couple of weeks in the 8 Week Challenge ……… & will wrap up the final week very soon. Really;)

I just realized something: We are going to ‘get’ something all of the time. That is, we are going to receive something, no matter what. No matter what we do or don’t do, whether we are deserving or not, irrespective of what we do or don’t desire: We. Will. Receive. Things, situations, people, ideas are flowing around & through our lives all of the time, always. So, why do we (meaning: I) sometimes feel so bereft?? Why is there this sense of “I Do Not Have What I Want ……… “??

Speaking for myself, it is because I do not welcome what comes. I seek to choose, to assert a preference, which I — in my infinitesimal wisdom — think is equal to What Is Best. I get this wrong, often! And I suspect my Inner Wise Woman is ROTFL, more often than not. In my preferring one thing over another, which takes up a lot of energy & mind-time, I frequently anoint what comes as “unworthy” &”unwanted”. And, so ………. I struggle. I experience discontent. Far more than is really necessary. I do not experience mindfulness at such times, as my ego is frantically asserting its hegemony over the myriad moments of life. This causes suffering minor & major, & it shoves me back into the past, the territory of anger & dissatisfaction. Or it knocks me far into the future where anxiety & fear dwell. At such times there is certainly no room for Love!

It may be Pema Chodron, one of my very favorite Buddhist teachers, who says to welcome everything as if we have chosen it. With all the horror & turmoil in the world, my first reaction to this idea: WTF?!? This attitude of welcoming all that comes as if it was chosen turns all of the preferences we have, all of the discernment we try to gain, right on their little heads. It zips right on by the the judgments of what is right, best, most worthy. And it completely obliterates Want vs Not-Want. Welcoming everything as if we’d chosen it gives us more opportunities to actually learn something, & to grow, & to be mindful. It makes it possible to experience real contentment, which means: not struggling.

Ay, the few times in my life I’ve actually been in the midst of Contentment, I liked it! Exerting a preference to live within Contentment all of the time IS one choice worth making — but beware, for it brings about a revolution in the thinking of all of those (such as myself) who pretend we are free-thinking, independent, discerning types. Welcoming everything as if it were our choice means being open & in humble relationship with What Is, which is counter to choosing This over That. It means flowing upon, rather than swimming within or against, the currents of life. And it requires being truly present to That Which IS, rather than being overcome with reactivity to it.

Put another way, as in this post of Namaste Consulting, it is: “welcome everything, push away nothing”. ((This is first in a series on the 5 principles or teachings of Frank Ostaseski, co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project & founder of the Metta Institute.)) These teaching principles were developed in his work with the dying & their care-givers, but they apply to all things, everyday. To welcome everything, & push away nothing is developing a non-judgmental attitude toward things. That is, abandoning our constant habit of defining our preferences, which gets in the way of simply being. Buddhist dharma teaches us to avoid grasping, yes, & likewise to avoid aversion —>> accepting What Is. In practical terms, it means to not rail against whatever comes in our lives, because it is Something We Do Not Want. Afterall, in the vastness of the universe, in the complexities of living, & within the bazillions of things that are occurring all of the time: How can anyone of us possible know what really is best?!? When I think I do, I get in spiritual trouble. And I struggle, which is a form of dukkha.

Trust me, I know about this, haha. I know that when I have a firm image of What Is Best in any given situation, & something else that doesn’t look just like it comes along — I miss it. And another opportunity for doing what is right, for wisdom, for spiritual adventure, for discovering Truth, Beauty, Joy is squandered. I know about this too, having wasted many opportunities, of many kinds BECAUSE I THOUGHT I KNEW BETTER –>>> Arrogance has never been a good friend to me. It comes down to this, I think: If you were starving, would you turn down the bruised apple?

Welcoming everything, pushing away nothing, & welcoming everything as if we had chosen it — this, THIS, is what spiritual surrender is: It is receiving, & being grateful for ……….. everything