Women of the Way
by nun Tai jitsu 13th century
She saw that arising phenomena arouse abided and fell away
She saw that the knowing of this arouse abided and fell away
Then she knew there was nothing more than this.
No ground Nothing to lean on stronger than the cane she held
Nothing to lean apond at all and no one leaning
And she opened the clenched fist of her mind and let go
And fell into the midst of everything
And she opened the clenched fist of her mind and let go, And fell into the midst of everything.” It is the two last lines that I repeat silently when I notice my thoughts are all tied up with something. The recognition permits the entanglement to loosen. Something in me softens and opens, becoming aware of everything around me, discovering a sense of peace and delight.
In a few lines, the poem describes what the mindfulness program teaches. It is an experiential course. There is plenty of time to observe our body sensations and our mind. We become more familiar with how our feelings, thoughts and emotions arise, stay for a while and then fade away.
The medieval poem reminds of our shared human condition, experiencing the same sensations, thoughts and emotions. It is what our human bodies do, and with continued mindful practice, our acknowledgment of our commonality begins. I have experienced glimpses of the infinite capacity for kindness, compassion and joy, and developing a new understanding of immeasurable.
When I notice an unpleasant feeling, it is acknowledged in a friendly manner and remember, I am not alone on this planet; many feel or have felt the same sensations as I am. If I feel like this, let me take in this sorrow with my in-breath and on the out-breath send wishes of what may relieve the suffering of others, including myself.
It can start simply. When you are feeling hungry or thirsty, you become aware of a desire for a sandwich or a drink of water. You may send wishes out to others, to have clean water to drink and nutritious food to eat. While enjoying the pure pleasure of having a drink of water, realizing others also share this experience.
The idea is compassion begins with ourselves, but this is a difficult concept in our society. There is pressure to be better somehow. Self-talk of not being wealthy enough, fit enough, or smart enough. The list goes on. What is getting in the way of giving kindness to yourself?
A excellent way to begin is passively listening to a loving-kindness meditation. Check out my recording of loving-kindness and maybe…” fall into the midst of everything.”