twisty

A couple of friends have pointed me to the teachings of Pema Chodron lately. I’ve only just started exploring her writing, skimming over bits and pieces. I am not Buddhist but I find a lot of truth and, well, comfort in the philosophy. Sometimes things seem very obvious and sometimes it scares the hell out of me that these teachings could be true. It’s hard to let go of long held beliefs no matter how unhealthy they may be.

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

That idea, that I’m okay right here, right now, is so very hard for me. I keep coming back to variations of “accept yourself” and I keep saying I’m going to do that – you know, just as soon as I’m someone else. A very long time ago I was told that because I see myself as needing to lose weight I would always keep the weight so that I would need to lose it. It makes me squint a little to look at that sentence but I get it. This is how I see myself. This is who I believe that I am. What would happen if I were really okay with myself as I am right now – instead of just saying that I am?

It’s such a twisty little path.

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11 thoughts on “twisty”

  1. Can’t we accept ourselves as someone who is striving to be better?

    I’ve never read anything by this woman, but think that a blanket statement that “there is no need for self-improvement” suggest a lack of understanding that some people need to be improving so that they can continue living.

    I’ll have to think on this one a bit more. Twisty path, indeed.

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    1. I get that Ally. It’s one of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around in the whole “living in the now” philosophy. I don’t think that she means that we aren’t constantly striving to improve so much as that we don’t have to wait for some magical goal (lose weight, get a new job, learn to salsa dance) before we can accept ourselves or be happy. My interpretation is that everything that is, is now. Personally, I have a really strong tendency to live far into the future where I worry about stuff that hasn’t really happened yet. Staying in the now is very hard for me.

      Maybe POC will stop by sometime and help clarify. You never know when he will show up.

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    1. I think I’d like to hear her speak. Will check on possible downloads but not go crazy buying them till I listen to one.

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  2. You can be sure that I’ll show up eventually. 😉

    To live is to live * today*. If you don’t live today you are not living, you are *waiting* to live in some imaginary future time when all is well. Death will occur before that happens.

    To live today requires acceptance of the way things are today…you don’t need to like the way things are, just accept that they are. That acceptance includes the way *you* are. When you truly accept yourself, you will find that it is much easier to make wise choices for yourself. Acceptance leads to liking which leads to ease of not harming yourself by making bad choices.

    I do not presume to say that my understanding of Buddhist philosophy is 100% correct, but it has worked for me. It’s been a step by step slow process which has been unbelievably liberating and inspiring.

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    1. Good to see you POC! And thank you, that is well explained. Once in a while I manage to achieve the living in the now thing and at least partial acceptance (not in a bitter, cynical way) of life as it is.

      I have moments of clarity so I know it’s possible. It’d probably be a decent idea to slow down and hang out in the moment, maybe even get back to meditating.

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  3. It would not only be a decent idea, it is a requirement of living now. Multitasking is the greatest obstacle. Living now requires focus.

    If you’re a passenger speeding down the road in a car and you look out the side window everything is a blur. You can’t focus because you are moving too fast and you’re not looking forward. If the car slows down you are able to focus even when looking through the side window. Once you’ve got the hang of focusing on the present moment, then you can think about moving into the driver’s seat and focusing forward. You’ll be able to move a little faster if you want and still maintain focus.

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  4. But I’m kind of used to driving with a blindfold on while trying to avoid orange cones in an obstacle course! I keep saying that I’m going to get back into meditation (for those who don’t know, that’s where Zazzy came from as I was learning Zazen meditation at the time). I downloaded a bunch of meditations to help me get started and recently deleted half that bunch without ever listening to them. I might download one of Pema’s meditations. I’m not sure at this point whether it’d be more helpful to have the guidance or to just wing it on my own. But, as my friend Shui used to tell me, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

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