Tara Brach: Trusting Who We Are [retreat talk]

Tara Brach: Trusting Who We Are [retreat talk]

Greetings we offer these podcasts freely and
your support really makes a difference. To make a donation please visit [3 Bells] Namaste and good evening. When I was in my 20’s for much of that decade
I was living in an ashram or spiritual community and I’ve shared that I was a bit of a type
A type yogi. You know I was kind of pretty driven trying
to reach enlightenment. I had an idea it would take about seven years
so I was trying real hard. That was not a true idea that didn’t match
with reality but there was a story that I remember hearing early on that has stayed
with me and I share it now and then because it helps me. And it’s of this musk deer who got a whiff
of this heavenly fragrance and felt this urge to find the source of it. It became this compelling life journey that
this musk deer was always on its way trying to find the source of this incredible fragrance. It went over the tallest rocky peaks and across
the wide raging rivers and through dense jungle chasing after the sacred scent and finally
at the end of its life it was exhausted and as it was dying, its horn pierced its belly
and the scent absolutely filled the air. And so it is that what we are longing for
is here. It’s already here. It’s really what we are and yet we get caught
in this idea that it’s around the bend or it’s down the road or it’s after the three-month
retreat where we’ve gone into the Himalayas or it’s back 2500 years ago with only special
beings at another era. And in some ongoing way we feel like we have
this problem we have to figure out and solve before we’re really there. There’s always something else. How many of you can relate to this being on
your way? Okay. So here we are on our way together and what
the Buddha taught, I find it’s through most spiritual traditions I’ve encountered, it’s
this radical reminder and it really kind of cuts through, that what we seek is what we
are. It’s the way Kabir says, “The guest I love
is inside.” Even when we’re most neurotic – when we’re
feeling most confused… when were most caught in doubt, whatever it is, when we’re most
stuck, we’re never actually separated from the awakened heart-mind any more than waves
are separate from the ocean. It truly is already always here. So I’m going to be referring to this as our
basic goodness. What I mean by that is the awareness love
that’s waking up through all of us. It’s our essence. It expresses as waves and the waves are conditioned
and they distract us because we think we’re a particular wave. We forget what we are and that the path really
is increasingly to trust our oceanness – to include the waves and trust our oceanness. Tonight’s reflection really is what helps
us to trust this? What helps us to really trust ourselves in
the deepest way? So last night Ruth was going into this elegant
inquiry into the depth of the nature of reality and this is kind of continuing on that who
are we really? And I think that in terms of last night’s
talk, future Dharma students will consider it the discourse – the “salad-dressing discourse”
[Laughter] You’ll never think of dukkha the same. You’ll see this. So when we’re in dukkha, we are caught in
doubt and we’re caught in mistrust and I know from the groups that that some of the deepest
pain is when we feel that we really can’t trust ourselves. I think the big question comes when we hear
this potential of can we trust our true nature is how could I possibly trust myself if I
know that I hurt people? I have hurt people. I will continue to hurt people. How can I trust myself? You know the extension is how can I trust
someone else if I know they’re gonna hurt me? So in terms of defining things, trusting goodness
does not mean that we’re trusting any of us not to hurt each other. It doesn’t have to do with that. And we’re not trusting that they won’t have
mean-spirited thoughts or act aggressively or in unkind ways. Some of you might remember one of my favorite
prayers is “Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t been greedy, selfish or self-indulgent
but I’m gonna get up in a few moments, God, and then I’m going to need a lot of help.” You know? So the given is that we have the same conditioning,
the same reptilian brain and limbic system as other animals and creatures and that under
certain circumstances all of us most likely will kill or steal or lie. Given the circumstances when we’re threatened
most of us get defensive. A woman in a job interview – interviewer says,
“Tell me what do you think your biggest character defect would be?” Her reply, “Honesty.” The interviewer says, “Honesty? I wouldn’t consider honesty a defect.” Her reply, “I don’t care what the hell you
think.” I have to tell you I was trying to find a
way to fit that in and I couldn’t figure out what. I just think it’s so cute. So back to where we were really looking. We can’t trust that others won’t be defensive
or aggressive or any of those things but here’s what we can trust that there is an intrinsic
awareness that’s waking up through all these body-minds really is through each of us. And it’s manifesting in a way to serve our
greater good because that awareness realizes our belonging. It’s expressed in love and in compassion. So how trust comes about is that we have more
and more tastes of that awareness and that love, and the more tastes we have, the more
we start recognizing this is more home. This is more true than any of the passing
conditioned states. I’m going to keep looping back to that again
and again. I remember one of my very first Buddhist retreats
was probably at IMS because that’s where I always went. One of the teachers was giving a talk about
the nature of awareness and when he asked for hand raise, “How many of you trust your
Buddha nature?” I kind of was going like this because a part
of me was thinking “Well yeah sure and then well no, I don’t know.” Because I was back and forth in that sense
of well I can’t trust that I’m really a good person in this way or in this way. It’s an interesting inquiry for you. Just to sense when you’ve had moments of feeling
that kind of trust. I think of it like we touch facets of that
gem of awareness, whether it’s maybe you had some moments of quietness and you really felt
the basic stillness of awareness or moments of that. As Ruth described that real wakefulness – that
knowing just knowing receiving in the moment what was happening. Or maybe you’ve had moments of feeling a sense
of tenderness, compassion, love. And did you sense in the moments when there
was that kind of awareness or maybe a purity of heart that you really could trust that
there was a kind of profound okayness? So this isn’t a hand raise kind of thing but
it’s just to sense how much has trust been woven in and then for many – and this is equally
valuable – the waking up has shined a light on a kind of chronic mistrust or you have
doubts. It’s not until we really get conscious and
see them that we can begin to wake up out of them. So as we look at it there’s an inquiry, which
is “What is between – like right in this moment – between me and trusting goodness?” And you might ask yourself that. “Is there anything between me and trusting
my basic goodness – the awakening awareness, the awakening love that’s here. When we ask that, we might sense that we’re
trusting or we might sense well and there’s instead there’s a feeling of fear or shame
or numbness. Or I’m just too distracted to contact anything. And usually whatever it is that’s between
us and trusting, it comes with some background story of a not OK self. So our lens for looking at trust is really
that it’s about identity. That when we’re mistrusting, we’re identified
as a separate self. Even when it’s not a bad separate self, if
there’s a feeling of a separate self, we’re not going to trust ourselves because we’re
living in something smaller than the truth. We’re living separate. One of the metaphors I use a lot is something
that we come into this world and because the world is challenging and difficult we construct
our ego kind of space suit. We all – every organism does it in its own
way. We toughen our skin in different ways and
you know the different tools for navigating and trying to figure out what people want
from us and getting acceptance and getting approval and shining up our presentation. So we develop the spacesuit. We all do it. I’ve sometimes described it as the coverings
around the Golden Buddha you know. We develop the spacesuit and the delusion
comes because we get identified with the spacesuit and we forget who’s looking through. And then we see another being and we forget
that the coverings aren’t what they are. We forget the consciousness, the knowing,
the awareness, the love that’s there. So we all to some degree if we’re suffering
we’re identified with the spacesuit. We’re identified with some notion of a separate
self, Is this all making this make sense so far? Okay. Rumi put it this way. He said, “Whatever comes into being gets
lost and being drunkenly forgetting its way home.” So all forms, all organisms, all waves – however
you want to think of it, arise and in some way have this misperception that their being
is identified with that wave – that they forget the larger ocean that they are emerging out
of temporarily. That’s getting lost… then drunkenly finding
our way home. Here we are… drunkenly finding our way home. So it’s natural and universal to get identified
as a separate self. It’s not like our personal mistake or personal
problem. It all happens to everyone. We get identified as a set of waves with certain
defining characteristics and our path is really remembering our oceanness and cherishing the
waves. The way we get stuck – what makes it hard
to let go of the identity – is that we have this incessant inner narrative that keeps
telling us you’re this set of waves and it’s not a very good set of waves you know and
we just keep telling ourselves it over and over again. Carlos Castaneda – the Don Juan books – puts
it this way. He says, “You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that. Every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that
the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves.” So here we are practicing and starting to
shine a light on how much is going on in terms of thinking and it’s not about fighting the
thoughts you know for at war with our thoughts will be for the rest of our lives. So it’s not that it’s just knowing that we
can wake up out of the thoughts and see them and not always be caught inside them. It’s the space between the thoughts and around
the thoughts that awareness shines through, that we remember the awareness that’s here. So the challenge with thoughts and with thinking
is that they’re super persistent, that they’re usually fear-based and that we take them as
reality. Those are the three challenges
There’s a cartoon with a man at a bar. He’s saying, “I know I’m nothing but I’m
all I can think about.” It’s like we are the star of the show and
you know how it is, I mean if we’re… it’s a little embarrassing to say… but we spend
a lot of time moving through the day and you know it’s just circling around a sense of
you know “Moi” and so it builds that sense of separate self. So here we start noticing those patterns and
we start noticing the quality of the thoughts like how many of them that you have during
the day arouse a sense of kindness, of belonging, of gratitude? You know? And more and more we get more skillful as
time goes on and then we’re honest when we sense so how many are sent are kind of fueling
the worries and the plans and the judging that kind of reconfirms the limited threatened
self. And as the Buddha said, “Whatever a person
frequently thinks and reflects on, that will become the inclination of their mind.” Neurons the fire together wire together. So part of our practice is we start shining
a light on the thoughts that are going on, the kind of thoughts and just the fact of
thinking and this is the most important piece, that we take them to be reality. We have a little film going on in our mind
and our body is believing it. Having biochemistry going on because we think
it’s true. So these are the challenges of the thoughts
and they perpetuate a sense of a kind of self that we are. Now to look at the construction of identity
is this huge complex thing and I’m gonna be really some simplifying but just to say that
certain kinds of thoughts create a certain sense of who we are. So that if you’re moving through a lot and
blaming others, there’s going to be a sense of the victim self, right? And if you’re going around and there’s a sense
of I’ve got this problem, I’ve got that problem, you’re the designated patient or the problem
person. Or if it’s always about your health, it’s
all of a sudden I’m the sick one and I know that one I’ve done the sick one. Over a number of years my world got so small
that became the story right? I just kept telling myself
Cartoon: man’s in heaven on iPhone he says, “Hello doc, this is the hypochondriac. Guess where I’m calling from?” Some of our stories have some roots in whatever’s
going on, but often not. Sometimes our story is about being the special
spiritual person, the meditator you know. And that story separates us too, then we’re
all of a sudden the moral or the ethical one or the cool one or the better one in certain
ways. My dad, when I got really interested in spiritual
life, I came home from college – it was junior senior year – and here’s a story he told me
because he knew of my interests. He said two friends were very fascinated by
the metaphysical there and they were focusing on what spiritual realms – the higher spiritual
realms that they would visit after their death. They agreed whoever died first would contact
the other and let them know what it was like. So one died and the other did séances for
months. One night at dusk friend’s voice comes through
and he’s eager says, “Well what’s it like? Tell me. Tell me!” Friends says, “Well, we eat and we drink
and we have sex and we sleep and then we eat and we drink and we have sex and we sleep
then plus over and over.” His friend says, “Wow! Heaven sounds really wonderful!” He goes, “Oh no, no, no. I’m not in heaven. I’m a moose in Wyoming.” So we have these stories about how it is and
about ourselves and one of the big stories for many of us is that life is hard and it’s
oppressive and we’re carrying a burden. We’re grim. It’s that grim oppressed person story. I don’t know if any of you know that one,
but I’ll tell you about my version of it. I mean I can easily get into my to-do list
and start sinking and right before retreat, someone from our organization sent me a letter
that needed to be edited and rewritten. It was substantial like three days before
she sent it to me, so I just got into a snit because I was trying to get talks together
and notes and stuff and this and that and I just felt my body. And I got grim and I started feeling resentful. Too much stuff was being poured on me and
then I saw okay there’s the oppressed person and I asked myself, and I do this a lot, Is
this really who I am? You know it might be this one… am I the sick person? I’m the oppressed person? It’s really helpful when we start catching
our identity. Okay so now I’m in the victim and it’s not
like it instantly dissolves, but there’s a little mindfulness that makes it so we’re
not quite as identified. So these are just examples of how our thoughts
create our identity and of course as we know it’s deeply, deeply imprinted on us from our
society. We have all the different ideas and standards
and ways of thinking of our society that tells us who we are. I’ll speak just a bit about this because
it’s a world unto itself, but I’ve always been struck by the story of a meeting between
Carl Jung and an indigenous chief, Ochwiay, and I’m not pronouncing it right, but it happened
in 1924 in New Mexico and it was in his personal memoirs, “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.” So he describes this conversation and speaking
of white men the chief Ochwiay told Dr. Jung, “Their eyes have a staring expression. They are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are
always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want, we do not understand
them, we think that they are mad.” Then Carl Jung asked him why he thought whites
were all mad. And the response was, “They say they think
with their heads.” “Why, of course,” said Dr. Jung, surprised. “What do you think with?” “We think here,” he said, and put his
hand over his heart. And Jung describes it that he had struck our
vulnerable spot – unveiled the truth to which we are blind. So I want to slow down here because just this
different description of how we think whether it’s head thinking, which is in this context
means it’s really driven by and in service of fear and greed – fear and wanting – head
thinking. It’s not connected up with heart. It’s not integrated. It’s not whole. It doesn’t recognize belonging. Our heart thinking, which arises from the
sense of our mutual interdependence and has a much deeper kind of intelligence. And again I’m going to come back to these
kinds of thinking because head thinking driven from fear, creates hierarchies by nature. Head thinking creates hierarchies and it doesn’t
matter where we are in the hierarchy. It creates separation and fear. And so many of us hear we sense as we kind
of are waking up more to both our personally held identity and our group identities, we
have intersecting group identities. Some might be considered higher on the hierarchy
– the dominant in terms of let’s say race, but not in terms of – this would be me – not
in terms of gender or religion being Jewish. There’s all these different levels and someone
else might be you know in terms of sexual orientation or gender identity, so it we have
intersecting identities and they all have messages and they all put us up or down in
different ways and they all contribute to a sense of whether we feel superior or inferior
at different times, but basically separation. And just to sense that for a moment – just
to experiment, you might reflect in your mind on someone here that is in some ways different
from you. Just bring someone to mind that’s in some
way different from you. And then imagine if you could truly experience
– no better no worse – that you are no better, you’re no worse, that there’s truly belonging. And then to bring another person to mind – no
better no worse – truly belonging. And what if you could move through the world
and really disband some notion and sometimes it’s very subtle and sometimes it’s very overt
of in some way being better or worse. It’s not saying the same. It’s saying belonging. I know for myself I wrote this in True Refuge
about special person like because I’m teaching a lot and I’m put in the position of knowing
more or something, the subtle thing of being above and realizing that if I in any way right
this moment feel like I’m better, that’s suffering, because it makes me separate and it’s actually
a smaller identity and creates distrust. If I feel like I’m worse that’s no fun either. So anyway that’s been a powerful reflection
for me no better no worse. It’s something that people that do plant medicine
psychedelics that kind of thing the chemistry seems to deactivate the part of the brain
that makes these different separations and hierarchies. I remember in college doing psilocybin and
being with plants and totally knowing in a cellular way the belonging and that there
was no better no worse. Now I have to often we dis-identify from a
hierarchy and rediscover but it’s a powerful and liberating approach to our identity – no
better no worse. So we’re talking about we get these identities
we believe and then of course the most direct way that we develop them is in our families,
parents, caretakers who in some way send the messages. You know the deepest need we have is being
seen and being loved. And then to the degree that our parents could
mirror back our value, show us love, see our goodness that allows us to relax and belong
that’s basic trust, but most of us had it very conditional and to some degree had severed
belonging. You might just reflect for a moment just as
a very simple reflection just to sense some of what fed the identity that might be most
sticky for you. You might allow an image to arise of you being
young and with whoever were significant others, parents, caretakers in some room where you
spend time. If you’re six, seven, eight and see if you
can dial it in a little, so you can actually see where you were. See the surroundings. See your parents or caretakers there. See their faces. Maybe look in their eyes so that they’re looking
at you now. Sense what is it that you want them to see. What do you want them to see about you? What don’t you want them to see about you? How do you want them to feel about you? What do you want them to be feeling emotionally
in their heart about you? What are you afraid that they might feel about
you? And just to know that the core features of
identity organize around wants and fears. So to the degree that there’s mistrust or
severed belonging, it’s the unmet needs for feeling seen and valued. So the inquiry here – open your eyes if you’d
like or keep them closed – the inquiry is how we move from to whatever degree there
is mistrust – because there’s an identity and a sense of something wrong which creates
mistrust – to remembering and feeling or belonging to awareness and love, trusting that. This is a quote from Sri Nisargadatta. He said, “My guru told me I was the divine,
the source, the pure awareness itself. The Guru told me I was the divine the source
the pure awareness itself. I pondered that for several years until I
knew that it was true – until I became it.” Then he adds, “I was lucky because I trusted
what I was told.” So I’m wondering if I just said that, would
that work be guru for the moment but it’s not just the message of a particular guru
that’s the point it’s really the message as I mentioned earlier of the Buddha and mystics
and saints through the ages. That’s what we are and it’s also you wouldn’t
be here if you didn’t have some deep intuitive wisdom that that’s what you are and a longing
to manifest it. It’s in us. So the pathway of trusting and remembering
is really having more and more tastes or direct experiences of our natural awareness. Just what we’re doing here – the practices
that allow us to relax back, deepen our attention and really taste presence and love, awakening. In the Tibetan tradition this is my favorite
to me what makes most sense description of our natural awareness. It’s got three primary characteristics or
qualities and one of the qualities is that it’s absolutely open and another way of saying
it is that it’s empty – that there’s no center. There’s no limit. That awareness is utterly open – open and
empty. And hence because it’s open and empty you
look at the altar for the Buddha over here and maybe some people were feeling sorry for
the Buddha – feeling like how come Quan Yin gets all the beautiful little Metta? All the stuff going on over here and the Buddha’s
just sitting there all alone? But that’s just its emptiness. I was trying to I keep thinking we should
have candles or a vase or something but I realize that’s just going to be the way it
is. So that’s one of the qualities – is this
open emptiness. The second quality is wakefulness – that awareness
is inherently wakeful, is Ruth was describing so beautifully, is that knowing quality. The third quality is the act of expression,
which is a tenderness that can respond so that when awareness encounters form, there’s
a response that’s tender. And again back to ocean and waves, when the
awareness that is source encounters the waves that arise out of the source, it’s tender
because the waves belong to awareness. It’s not like there’s something separate. It’s not dualistic. We fall in love because we realize oneness. The waves belong to us. Everything that we experience is part of our
awareness. There’s nothing outside of awareness. So the open empty wakeful and inherently tender. Now there are many many dimensions that get
expressed from that, that we encounter all the time. Gratitude is a pure expression of awake awareness. Compassion… awe… wonder… creativity…
so whenever we touch any of the facets of the gem it’s like coming home. There’s something that feels completely pure
and true. Now here’s the key, that you have been moving
through these days and each of you at moments has touched in some way – has had a taste
of natural awareness – probably many, many, many, many glimpses. And yet what happens is that we are so in
the habit like the musk deer of trying to get somewhere else that we don’t arrive enough
to really get familiar, as Jonathan was saying, with the experience so it feels like, Oh yeah
I know this. This is home. This is what I am more than any of that conditioning. So the remainder of our time for this talk
I want to explore how you can move from having tastes of your true nature, to having a real
sense of a trust that this really is who I am. And there’s a lot more science on this now
which is really interesting that the science of going from states to traits. That you might have a state of feeling compassion,
but how does it become a really regularly accessible part of your being? And what a lot of neuroscience is showing
is that if you have an experience of compassion and you actually stay in and then feel it
and it fills you completely and you’re actually aware of the experience for fifteen to thirty
seconds, there’s more chance that it kind of it comes and it gets sticky and stays in
your implicit memory as oh yeah this is part of my life experience. But if you don’t really sink into it, it comes
and goes and it stays like a passing state. So to turn states into traits we need to deepen
our attention to the awareness that has emerged. This is why I emphasize what we call after
the RAIN, because during the practice of RAIN, you’re recognizing, you’re allowing, you’re
investigating, you’re offering compassion, but it’s in the moments afterward where there’s
that beingness, that presence and just to rest in it and get familiar is really like
getting to know what it’s like to be home. And the more you get to know what it’s like
to be home, the more you trust who you are. So I’m going to give you a couple of examples
of this and then we’ll just practice a little. And the first example is from my own life. This was at the end of my ashram days. My biggest experience about trust and goodness
was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. I have had the good fortune of not having
experienced abuse except for once and this was it and I’ve written it up and I’m gonna
give you a little bit more of the layers of this. I was 28, at a gathering of our spiritual
community and I had just had a miscarriage – two days after a miscarriage – and I had
been worried that maybe the heat of the desert had – it was very, very hot outside and doing
a lot of exercise that caused that. And that was mentioned to the spiritual teacher. Well we were all gathered and in that gathering
of a couple hundred people, he had me stand up in front of everybody and basically blamed
me for losing the child. He said that you know you’re willing to have
sex but it was really your own ego that wanted to just work. You’re selfish and you didn’t really care
about having a child and that killed the child. So as you can hear that that’s abuse. Over the next few days I was devastated because
this was my community and this is my teacher and I spent hours in this little gurdwara. Gurdwara is a temple but this is kind of like
a one-person Sikh temple meditating and praying. It came down to do I believe his condemnation
of my personal badness? And remember in the hierarchy he had a lot
of power. He was a male. He was the top of the hierarchy – a lot of
authority. What he had said tapped into my own already
existing identity of bad self – my own shame around being a driven person and being self-centered
and being egocentric and ambitious and all the things that I didn’t like myself for. So it was like well wait a minute is he? Is it true I’m bad? You know? And so I just meditated a lot and the process
that really turned me towards healing was – and this is why I brought up the fear thinking
– as I went from all the swirl of I’m bad or am I bad or how could this happen? He wouldn’t have done it if there wasn’t something
wrong with me. To I made a kind of U-turn. I said okay stop the thinking and I went to
my heart and I knew that all I could do is be with the waves. Like I had to go under the thoughts to the
waves of hurt, of grief around betrayal, the anger, the shame. So the process was drop the fear thinking
and just go directly into the rawness the waves and it was in that presence that a quality
of self compassion and tenderness emerged that became so filled with light – so full
– it was so tender and so big, that I realized that this was who I was. That was more true than any of the stories
either of us – him or me – were telling me about me. You know? And so then the after the RAIN was I just
stayed a long time in that presence. I kept saying this is it. Just rest in this. Just rest in this. And just to follow up on the story, forgiveness
became possible because it was just as limiting to stay in the abuse victim’s story as it
was anything else. It wasn’t because oh he deserves to be forgiven;
it was just for the freedom of my own heart. Now I can look at him and see a being that’s
very mixed that he’s not alive anymore but him being driven by his own demons and whatever. I left the community and I warned other people
because I didn’t want other people treated that way. So it was ultimately empowering and at the
time devastating. I share it because it had everything to do
with the seeds of real trust – not that I won’t cause harm and haven’t caused harm,
but that that compassionate presence – that openness, wakefulness, tenderness is more
the truth of who I am than any of the waves. Let me invite you to reflect for a moment
if you will. One of the pathways to trusting buddha-nature
is to open unconditionally to the waves. This is what we’ve been practicing here that
all the waves belong. So just explore that for a moment together. Utterly awake, senses wide open. Open your senses… listening… sounds are known… sensations
are felt… feelings experienced. Sensing the possibility of really letting
life be just as it is. Coming out of any idea or story. This is a kind of yes to the moment that can
go infinitely deep, just allowing this life right now. You might sense who are you when there’s truly
a yes to the life of the moment – to these waves right now. Who’s here? And if you sense a solidity… a clutch…
another wave… just opening to that… opening and becoming the openness. In the foreground, sounds, sensations, feelings
and sensing in the background, that alert inner stillness… the openness that includes
it all. Everything belongs. As Mark Nepo says, “Everything is beautiful
and I am so sad. This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder
and grief. The light spraying through the lace of the
fern is as delicate as the fibers of memory forming their web around the knot in my throat. The breeze makes the birds move from branch
to branch as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next room, in the next song,
in the laugh of the next stranger, in the very center under it all we have that no one
can take away and all that we’ve lost face each other. It is there that I’m adrift feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything. I am so sad and everything is beautiful.” So one of the pathways to discovering the
awareness, openness and tenderness that’s what we are is through the waves. The other pathway is – the two wings mindfulness
and love – the other pathway is directing our attention to remember love – to remember
love. And this is what we do with our heart practices
we’re shifting on purpose from fear of thinking – the head thinking – to the kind of heart
thinking that helps us reconnect with that belonging that’s always here. To reconnect and dissolve that small self-identity. So we can sense it some in the groups when
we get together and there’s that shared vulnerability and then we start sensing that when we’re
all holding a space for that, we become that tender space and that deepens trust. And then in our daily life and this is where
we can really find the trust gets very very much kind of integrated into our being. All the moments of giving and receiving – when
we can in those moments in our consciousness sense oh we, it’s we that larger space it
could be the gestures, the smiles the little bit of the melting of the heart and sometimes
it’s dramatic but it’s the connections with each other that truly help us to trust who
we really are. So a story and then we’ll be closing for you
that shows that to me was such a it’s such a beautiful example of how in relating we
can go beyond the small self identity. This is a story told by Terry Dobson who’s
an American, a white American in Japan studying Aikido. This is decades ago and Aikido is the art
of reconciliation and really the idea is that whoever has the mind to fight has broken their
connection with the universe. But Terry was studying Aikido while he saw
the wisdom of this; he really wanted to prove himself physically. So he still has the identity of this young
tough guy. So one afternoon he’s on a train and a large
dirty drunk man in laborer’s clothing boards and starts yelling and he’s violent and he’s
cursing and he’s swinging his fists around and he knocks a young woman with a baby into
the laps of an elderly couple. So he’s this violent guy and Terry figures
okay this is my chance. I’m going to show this guy. He felt tough and holy basically, so he’s
going to put an end to this guy’s violence. So he stood up and he’s gonna step in the
midst and the drunk saw him and so now he focuses all his yelling at Terry. He says you’re gonna get a lesson. Terry gave him a look of disgust to egg him
on and the guy’s about to rush at him when enter someone else – an old man in a kimono
calls out hey! and he beckons the drunk man to come over to him. At first the drunk’s belligerent you know. Why the hell should I talk to you? But the old man just beams – no fear or resentment. His eyes are sparkling with interest. He asks him what he was drinking and just
starts talking to him. The old man tells the laborer about how every
evening sitting in the garden with his wife drinking sake and how he looks at their persimmon
tree and goes on and on and the drunk’s bewildered. He goes well I like sake –
And the old man says, I’m sure you have a wonderful wife. No, replies the laborer to this so strangely
friendly man in a soft sullen voice. My wife she died last year, and suddenly changed,
the drunk hung his head and heavy sorrow and gently swaying with the motion of the train
this big burly man who was so threatening just moments ago began to sob. I don’t got no wife. I don’t got no home anymore. I lost my job. I don’t got no money. I don’t got nowhere to go. I’m so ashamed of myself. So big tears are rolling down his cheeks a
spasm of pure despair ripples through his body. My, my! The elderly man says. The heartfelt care yet undiminished delight. That’s a very difficult predicament indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it. Terry turned his head for one last time before
because he’s leaving the train now and the laborer was sprawled like a sack on the seat,
his head in the old man’s lap. The old man was looking down at him with a
smile and compassion. His hands stroking the filthy matted head
of this confused soul. Terry describes leaving the train dazed. What he had wanted to do with muscle and meanness
have been accomplished with a few kind words. Whatever we practice gets stronger and if
our identity is such that we practice controlling or pushing around or judging, that gets stronger. But if our muscles that we’re building which
is what we’re doing here together is to remember care… remember that each person is struggling
a hard struggle… that it’s hard to be alive… remembering our shared vulnerability… remembering
the goodness… then our way of reaching out to each other will keep deepening our sense
of connection and trust. There’s a way in which we all have to find
our metta practice – our way of remembering love – whatever really opens our heart – whatever
helps us to trust. I remember last time I was at the Forest Refuge
for me I was sitting at a table and there was an elderly gentleman at the table and
he looked really grim and beleaguered in his own way and I remember in my mind’s eye giving
him a kiss on the brow, like just offering him a blessing. Giving him a kiss on the brow and feeling
this sense of immediate open-heartedness and connection. I started in my mind’s eye going around with
this silent retreat. You don’t look at people directly in the eye,
but I kept imagining I was kissing everyone on the brow and they became more than. I mean they became dear friends you know in
the silence and then in my meditation I started bringing people up in my life and I’d imagine
kissing them on the brow or touching them on the brow – whatever – and having them
offer the same blessing to me. And the sense of tenderness and belonging
was so profound that it was another one of those deepenings… entrusting the purity
of heart. I really invite you to experiment and find
the way of remembering love that warms your heart because it’ll help you trust your heart
and we deep down really want to trust the goodness of our hearts. So our final reflection if you will. Just to close your eyes. Bringing to mind someone you love where it’s
kind of uncomplicated – it’s easy to love them. Sense them right here so you can really feel
and sense and remember all the goodness that you’re loving… how they are when they’re
expressing love to you… their aliveness, their mischievousness, their
intelligence, their basic goodness. And in some way communicate your care. Just imagine yourself doing it. It might be through words like thank you or
I love you. It might be a kiss on the brow. It might be some energetic expression. Letting it be tender and sense them receiving it – really receiving
it! Perhaps you could take a moment to imagine
reciprocally their expression of love to you and letting yourself receive it. And feeling the heart space that opens up
and you just might ask yourself Who am I when this heart is open? Sri Nisargadatta says, “Love tells me I’m
everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.” These final moments you might sense this oceanness,
this field of awareness… cherishing the waves so that whatever comes up regarding,
holding as part of your being, that it belongs. There’s nothing wrong. That there’s a natural tenderness and presence
with this changing life. “Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.” May we trust who we are. Many blessings, thank you. [gong]

Comments (9)

  1. Great video! Thank you

  2. Tara, you always make sense ! 🙂 Thank you again ! We are all one <3

  3. Thank you very much. Listened to this as a start of my day today. Actuall plan on trying this today w my customer service work. Lol. At times can be stressful.

  4. Thank you so much for your meditations and teachings. I am so grateful for you! ❤️

  5. Just leave a bitcoin cash wallet address in description

  6. I love it all- Everyone, every bit and you 💛

  7. ❤️❤️❤️

  8. Thank you Tara, absolutely love your talks….the gentleness comes through of you….namaste…xxx

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