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It helps to remember that our practice is not about accomplishing anything… but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is…. pema chodron

someone shared at a meeting today about feeling lost. they are hoping they can find something inside them to offer to a newcomer who comes into the rooms. right now he feels he has nothing to offer.

this caused me to remember something my sponsor always tells me. “when you can find god in the middle of a storm, then you truly have found god” it is not much of a challenge to feel connected when things are going my way. it is a completely different situation to feel connected when everything is hard. or seems impossible. 

i know that when this person shared today, my heart was affected. they assured me they had nothing to offer, but my experience was very different. they reminded me that struggle is only a situation removed, and that the only difference between that person and myself is the accessibility and the awareness of my connection to life. it was an unexpectedly incredible day.

Step One

I’d like you to start with where you already feel compassion. Currently I feel that’s the most effective place to start, where you already feel it. I always mention that when Trungpa Rinpoche was teaching about compassion, he would awaken the feeling of compassion, ignite it or awaken it by thinking it of an experience he had when he was a very young boy in Tibet. He looked down from the top of the monastery and saw people stoning a puppy to death, and he couldn’t do anything because he was too far away. He said what made the image all the more painful is that they were laughing and having fun doing this. All he had to do was think of that, and then the feeling of the bodhichitta began to flow.

That’s where we would start this practice, with what is a second step on the sheet. But we’ll start with that as the beginning. You would think of someone in this category. Then you would wish that they could be free of suffering and the root of suffering. Now this is very interesting. Suppose, for instance, I find that when I do this for the animals in the laboratories, it’s very straightforward. I just want them to not be in those experiments. I just want them to be out of there. It’s completely practical. That might be the situation with what you’ve been thinking of as well. 

Sometimes, though, more frequently as I go through my life, it’s psychologically a little more complicated. People often say to me, for instance, when they wish for themselves or a loved one to be free of suffering and the root of suffering, and then they say, I don’t know if I really mean that. Then they say, I understand the logic of this. You say, “I learn so much from suffering, I’m not sure I really want myself to be free of this particular anxiety I’m feeling now because I’m out of work, or whatever it might be, because I learn so much from it.” 

I think it’s very helpful, when you’re doing this practice for yourself and for others as you move through the list. It might be very straightforward, like the laboratory animals. You just want them out of that situation, and so you know what you wish for them. But at some level we’re always talking about the root of the suffering. It’s often at the level of psychological distress. For instance, if someone is dying or someone is very ill and I think of them and I wish them to be free of suffering and the root of suffering. Part of that is not wanting them to be in physical pain…. pema chodron

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