Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

April 11, 2016—May 7, 2016

April 11, 2016
Mindfulness is not just paying attention, although we must pay attention if we are to be mindful. When mindfulness fully settles in—no longer a reminder to notice what we are doing, thinking, saying—it becomes a quality of awareness that is wholly unselfconscious, simply a presence. We could say that true awareness is unaware of itself.

April 16, 2016
As we grow in our spiritual lives, we grow in discernment and wisdom. Part of our discernment is that we can see with ever sharper clarity where our wisdom ends, and we see the suffering that can result for ourselves and others from our imperfect wisdom. We also see more clearly that most non-practitioners are operating from an even smaller store of wisdom. We then must absorb, with ever sharper clarity and expanding compassion, just how deep and pervasive the world’s suffering is.

May 1, 2016
Lately I’ve been aware that when I am offered a choice—which place to go, which things to do—I find it difficult to decide. It doesn’t feel like what Barbara used to warn about: “Don’t get caught in indecision.” Indecision vacillates—on the one hand this advantage /disadvantage...on the other...yes, but. With indecision, the decision matters too much. In recent years, I’ve come to see that what makes responding to a suggestion difficult is that the decision doesn’t matter. I have lost the art of preference.

When we ease up on our preferences, we ease up on our struggle with life.

May 7, 2016
Everything in society, in literature, in song, in drama tells us not just that attachment comes with love, it is inseparable from love. It is even a proof of love.

So it can be helpful to develop an active practice of unhooking love and enjoyment from attachment.

Our practice needs to begin with allowing ourselves to reflect seriously on the possibility—the Buddhist concept—that love and attachment are quite separate, even if we can’t feel them as separate in our present lives. We can begin by looking for instances in the world—maybe the neighbor who gives up her beloved terrier to a kind person in the country because he shouldn’t be cooped up in her apartment all day. Notice whenever it seems that someone can let go of someone they deeply love for that being’s benefit.

Once we see the possibility, we can notice a moment—an hour? a few hours? in the present or the past—when love and attachment come unhooked in our own lives, so that in that moment we can love from a free heart. Perhaps we felt joy—even if only briefly—when a cherished friend had the opportunity to do something she had always dreamed of doing even though she would be living half a world away. When we observe the surprising joy that those instances bring us, we become motivated to extend them, for our deep and lasting liberation, a wider field for joy.

Need is not a pleasant feeling. Non-attachment is not detachment—it is simply freedom from need.