How do you express your love for this astonishing, alarming, awe-inspiring world? What do you do that arises from a spontaneous offering of the heart?
For years now, I’ve been part of a small group of long-time meditation teachers in northern California that meets a few times a year. Now we’re very senior teachers, both in years of dedication to teaching and in age. We listen, console, and cheer each other on to embody our spiritual teaching, to express love and compassion for ourselves and for the whole phenomenal world in a spirit of joyful offering. One of the gifts of meditation is that our minds can quiet down so we can be fully present and listen with our hearts.
This quality of presence, of listening with – and to – the heart, is the essence of mindful loving awareness. Listening is receiving this paradoxical, terrifying, exquisite world with devotion. It is an act of love. The very courage and willingness to sit still in meditation expresses love and devotion! Receiving the moment, paying attention, is a gateway to something larger than the separate sense of self, a doorway that opens to the joys, sorrows and mysteries of the whole universe.
Sitting still, you start to see that experience in this universe is ever-changing. The Buddha saw the evanescence of all the forms of this world – like bubbles on the Ganges river, empty, fleeting, insubstantial. He said, see yourself like this: a star at dawn, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, or a dream. Then presence fills with appreciation and gratitude, naturally turning into devotion to life, unprompted and spontaneous.
As this new decade begins, take some time to quiet yourself and reflect on these questions. Let the wisdom of your listening heart reveal your answers.