Thursday, 26 June 2014

Questions from Thich Nhat Hanh

On the 21-day retreat our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh asked each of us to consider and write down how we generate a feeling of joy and how we handle a painful feeling. He is going to read them all! I thought they were very interesting questions to consider, because this reflects his teaching that in working with the seeds in our store consciousness we should water our wholesome seeds and not water the unwholesome seeds. In this way we work towards transforming our seeds of suffering into seeds of happiness. They are very interrelated and when I started to answer the questions for myself I realised the ways of dealing with them are similar because first one has to stop and notice what is arising. Only then can you begin to deal with what is already there. So in both situations it begins with shining the light of awareness onto the situation so we can recognise the reality of it, rather than how we may want it to be. In writing the answers I also found it interesting to realise sometimes it is a deliberate decision to stop and notice what is going on, and sometimes something just makes me stop and notice it, as if the cosmos is calling out to me. The interbeingness of the cosmos is very apparent in these situations, that I get what I need whether it comes from 'me' or apparently outside of me, what is the difference? Here is what I wrote.

How do I generate a feeling of joy?

It begins with stopping.
Stopping, breathing, noticing
being awake enough to notice
the signs of joy all around.
The nun gently and carefully tying her headscarf,
the arousing call and echo of the frogs,
the gentle petals cascading from the blushing pink rose.
Sometimes the stopping helps me notice and
sometimes noticing helps me to stop.
The sweet aroma of evening honeysuckle
caught my attention and brought me to a standstill.
The vibrant blue of love-in-a-mist,
the gentle thud of the falling mulberry,
the utter sweetness of hand holding hand.
All bring me home to recognise,
this is a joyful moment.
Do I bring them about
or does the cosmos graciously bring them to my attention?
By breathing, stopping, noticing
I am more closely in touch with
these precious moments of joy and
each time I notice the moon it reminds
me of you, dear teacher.
© 5 June 2014

How do I handle a painful feeling?

Stopping, accepting, embracing,
naming the feeling for what it is and
knowing it is not everything,
there is more besides this current pain.
Tiredness will pass,
discontent will be overcome,
irritation will gradually work itself out.
So I’m patient with myself and
this present feeling,
accepting it as present yet
knowing it will pass.
Like the ebb and flow of the gentle tide
these feelings rise,
have prominence and recede.
And side by side there is gratitude, recognition, understanding.
I am learning to accept and embrace
these feelings as teachers
who help me to become more patient,
kinder, more aware.
© 5 June 2014

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