Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

March 1, 2008—March 28, 2008

March 1, 2008
In my entry of January 26, 2008, I note how the hourly “thank you” helps me to see the objects around me with eyes of love. The word “love” also helps me to understand why it is that I now experience so much more than the immediate physical being of what I am looking at. What leaps up for me on these occasions of brief but deep seeing is an awarenesss of its history, who made it, who loved it, a glimpse into all the causes and conditions that brought it into being in the now—what I describe on February 23, 2008. When we love, we want to see that deeply, to savor all that has gone into the creation of the beloved. Transparency—the freedom from kleshas, agendas, our ego stuff—allows us to love, and when we love we see beyond the one-dimensional to the rich fullness of her/its being.

March 12, 2008
Bettina gave me a continuation day (birthday) card this morning with words of Rumi: “Every object, every being is a jar full of delight. Be a connoisseur.” Trying to find more words for that experience of the world, I came up with this: You are walking by a coffee house window and see a woman reading the newspaper. Perhaps you appreciate that she is beautiful, perhaps you feel no interest in her appearance. If that is all, you walk on, she remains one-dimensional to you. Or, on another occasion, you meet her, come to know her, become aware of all that has shaped her—where she grew up, what her parents are like, the difference a particular teacher made in her life, what she likes to eat. While you don’t begin to know everything about her, and you don’t know it in a methodical way, she becomes rich with life. What you do know, those glimpses of the flow of life that has created her existence in this moment, float about in your consciousness, so that when you look at her you see that she is so much more than that silhouette of a woman reading a newspaper. She—or the garbage pail, the flowerpot, the specks of food in the dish drainer, the rusty nail—becomes alive, multi-faceted, a living, flowing embodiment of interbeing. You fall in love with her, with them.

March 21, 2008
Spending a week on the desert with Bettina has been a rich time because, not in spite of, my having a chest cold, a powerful “mallergy” and occasional small back pains at the same time. Those gave me the opportunity to practice in a wonderfully peaceful surrounding, free of demands and conditioning, and to explore the deep pleasures of not adding suffering to bodily inconveniences. It’s a way of being in the world that extends beyond the body and its challenges, a way that I have been calling “no resistance.” No resistance does not mean a passive acquiescence, or not saying “no”. It means that when we say No, however firmly, it is coming from a place of Yes, a well of deep knowing, a place that knows all that we do not know, so that what flows from it is a steady unhurried stream in place of a wall.

March 23, 2008
Buddhist thought separates the feelings that different objects or people awaken in us as unpleasant, neutral, pleasant. As we practice, I observe that what used to feel unpleasant to us becomes neutral and what used to feel neutral becomes pleasant. We used to have a strong aversion to eating carrots without mustard, and now our feeling is neutral. As we develop the sense of interbeing, come to see the richness of experience within the worn rug, the hammer, the glass of water, what felt merely neutral, merely useful perhaps, comes to feel pleasant. These are not the pleasant feelings that create attachment, these are the pleasures of the Pureland with its openness to life in its beauty and impermanence.

March 24, 2008
Thich Nhat Hanh, writing about death, speaks of what continues and mentions our progeny and our spiritual heirs. Well, of course we don’t all have progeny, and in the past I would have dismissed “spiritual heirs” as well. I was always annoyed by the attempts to comfort mourners by the promise that the dead would live on in the minds and hearts of all who knew and loved her, as though, I used to think, the rest of us would live forever.

With a greater awareness of the richness of interbeing, I felt suddenly illuminated by that phrase “spiritual heirs.” I saw that it does not at all mean those whom we have touched directly. It means that our lives interact in such a way that the myriad of influences of each human being touch a myriad of other lives in a myriad of incalculable ways. I thought of Margareta, my history teacher in high school, who made such a difference in my life, and how she not only affected the lives of her friends and family or her colleagues or the girls she taught. I thought how I had incorporated some of the person she was, in ways I cannot even measure, and how, in ways I cannot even measure, I must have passed on some of Margareta to people I have known, and how this mysterious and real flow continues in the world so that indeed there is no birth or death to it.

March 27, 2008
Trying to describe to Bettina my awareness driving down Washington Street this morning—that I was living exactly in the moment, with no effort to do so, as I have been most of the time since last weekend on the desert—I found some words that pleased both of us. My experience was a slight awareness of a difference, that in the past while driving I’ve so often been a little ahead of myself—where I was going, what I’d be doing next, and with that sense of difference came the almost amused consciousness (as in, how come it took you so long?) that such anticipatory living is quite unnecessary, a silly distraction from the act of living. The words I used to describe this consciousness to Bettina were: “I am where I belong. I am not out of place.”

Bettina adopted the words to a slightly different context—whether we are feeling sadness or anger or boredom, we can claim them, and know that, wherever we are, at that moment we are where we belong.

March 28, 2008
There is no opposition between Being and Doing. Only that in a life of practice, all Doing flows directly out of Being.