Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go - Pema Chodron

       Already having formal education in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions, this summer I'm doing independent reading into Buddhism in an effort to study how the faiths relate. 

        "The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness" 
by American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, discusses 
the value of precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go:
          In meditation and in our daily lives there are three qualities that we can nurture, cultivate, and bring out. We already possess these, but they can be ripened: precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go.
          When the Buddha taught, he didn't say that we were bad people or that there was some sin that we had committed- original or otherwise- that made us more ignorant than clear, more harsh than gentle, more closed than open. He taught that there is a kind of innocent misunderstanding that we all share, something that can be turned around, corrected, and seen through, as if we were in a dark room. It's just an innocent situation, but how fortunate that someone shows us where the light switch is. It brightens up our life considerably. We can start to read books, to see one another's faces, to discover the colors of the walls, to enjoy the little animals that creep in and out of the room.
          In the same way, if we can see our so-called limitations with clarity, precision, gentleness, good heartedness, and kindness and, having seen them fully, then let go, open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before. In other words, the key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we're doing.
My Copy of "The Wisdom of No Escape"
Photo By: Donna Welles 07/10/12

          The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead , there's a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent, naïve misunderstanding that we all share, which keeps us unhappy.
          Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It's about seeing how we react to all these things. It's seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It's about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.

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