My greatest joy is giving the gift of love and hope through the dharma, knowing it is possible for humans to transform their hearts. These dharma gifts include paying attention, practicing clarity and kindness and addressing the suffering of the world–which, of course, includes ourselves.
Today is July 13th 2015, and on July 7th 1977, I’ve flew to Portland, Oregon and then I took a long bus ride up to ___, Washington to be on a 14-day mindfulness retreat. It was my first residential retreat. It was 14 days, and I didn’t know anybody at all. And then, ___ really a clarity of what I was going to do there, but my husband has said, this is really good, so you should do it. So, there it was. Then, my only experience with mindfulness meditation before that had been a day and a half, a Friday night to a Sunday afternoon at someone’s house in the south bay, somewhere near San Jose. That my husband had driven me down there on a Friday afternoon. Again, this is great, he said, you’re going to love it, and dropped me off two months before, and ___ I’ll be back Sunday. And I spent nearly 48 hours, miserably uncomfortable. I had really hard time. There were probably 15 or 20, probably 20 people there who were sitting, who were surely a ___, purpose as a meditation hall, it was very hot. We slept on mattresses on the floor, and two bedrooms, one mattress, next to the other, everybody, dressing, and undressing in a communal space, and I was way older, and less hip than everybody else, and I wasn’t so comfortable about that. ___ terrible headache, because no one had told me that there’s not going to be any coffee. And, I had just a terrible caffeine withdrawal headache. And I didn’t understand the instructions very well, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing there. And I spent most of the weekend thinking, when he gets here, am I really going to tell him,… that… what was he thinking? And, this is… I’m so fully prepared, I’m really practicing what I was going to say.
And 2 months later, I was on a plane, going to a 14-day meditation retreat in ___, Washington. And I have 2 clues about what might have caused me given that experience, to be going up, for 14 days. And one of them is a photograph. I have it framed in my bedroom, ___, photograph of myself and the teacher on that retreat, and 19 or 20 other people all sitting like a little graduation photo. And here I am at the end of the first row, and I’m smiling, so I must have, in retrospect, remembered, you know, when you remember things, you remember the worst, because that was the most frightening part of anything, and you cannot remember the good part. And I’m smiling. So that’s actually an interesting clue. And the other thing that I think about was I did my walking meditation on that place in the living room. It was a private house. It had a living room. It had a ___ over fireplace in the living. And I did my walking meditation back and forth in front of that fire place. And on the ___, there was one of those polished pearls that you buy in ___, the ___, and they usually have seven lovely expression carved into them that says sisters or friends forever. And then in this particular ___, it had said that life is so difficult, how can we be anything, but kind. And retrospectively, I think on some level, you know, if that’s what they’re teaching here, that’s maybe what I want to do. I really want to start tonight what Sally was talking so beautifully about last night that really, kindness is a humble word. Usually, when you say about somebody, they’re really kind. It’s like a lukewarm word, you know, say, they’re fantastic, or they’re gorgeous, or they’re brilliant. You know, kind. It’s a set of a soft word. I think it’s the most important word of all. Of course, she mentioned that I think someone even before that when people ask the ___ if there is a ___, of course, what is your religion? My religion is kindness? It’s such a profound kind of a word. From time to time, you know, I have been on the same partner now for way more than 60 years, and sometimes, we run out of things we’re supposed to say to each other. Say, every once in a while, just to make conversation, we’ll say so-so, what do you think? From all those years of meditation and teaching and thinking and studying and training groups, how have you changed? So it’s kind of a silly thing, because you’ve been living with me the whole time, and I— you know, I like to think it shows in some way. You know, just to have some conversation. ___ how have you changed? And I will say, I became kind. And he’ll say, you’re always kind. Well, maybe. But I became kind-er. And that’s really true. I became kind-er, the more awake I was to the pain I could possibly cause by doing ___ in any situation. By the pain of a ___, or ___ answer, or the pain of not remembering to do something that I’ve said I would do, of how easy it is to cause pain. And how much suffering there is in life for everyone. Sometimes, we think, those people, they don’t suffer, you read all the celebrity magazine, everybody looks beautiful and fabulous, is smiling, but everybody suffers, because desire’s endless. And whatever we have, there’s always—if I only have that, then I’d really be happy.
More and more that I saw how much the habits of thy mind, my habits of my mind, and everybody’s habits of their mind make their situation worse. I think to myself yesterday, I said, at one point, when we were together, I’ve said, you know it’s going to turn out that all the folks you ___ like grandmothers said to us, when we were young, ___ milk, ___ time—all of those things. It turned out to be fundamental Buddha-Dharma.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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