Three Attitudes that Nourish a Liberating Practice, by Tara Brach
About Tara Brach:
A pervasive but often invisible source of suffering in our culture is self-aversion. We are a busy culture, and we move through our life feeling anxious and dissatisfied, but not fully conscious of how we neglect or judge our inner experience. We suffer from a lack of belonging: to our own bodies, to each other and to the earth. When we practice Buddhist meditation, we learn how to listen deeply and hold our life tenderly.
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Namaste. As some of you know, I took much of the month of January off, and then I began a self-retreat at home. And then went up to the ___ refuge and in Massachusetts, I did a more formal retreat, which is just lovely, a chance to slow down enough to really take in the moments and feel some stillness and silence, and I miss the blizzard in Washington.
Anyway, I came back to a lot, a lot of emails as I do, and one of them said, “___, medication bring you peace, happiness and bliss.” Another friend who knew I was coming back, when I back after I’ve missed a bunch of weeks, it’s pretty intense, I knew I was coming back in this world of our cultures, sent me a little story about a guy who had return from a 9-day of ___ retreat, and went back to his job at the zoo, and seeing out how chilled he was, the head keeper put him in charge of the tortoises.
So, this guy, Dave, he walked slowly over the cage and at lunch time, the head keeper checks in on him only to see the cage door wide-open and the tortoises all gone. So, he says, even ___, “what happened with the tortoises?” And Dave said, “Well, I opened the tortoise cage door, and it was like *wooosh*” So, if you can feel that like in slow-mo, this culture is on hyper-drive.
So, I want to share one of the kind of central inquiry that I find is with me a lot and in particularly alive in retreat, which is really in any moment- what is the way of paying attention? That is going to be most liberating. We won’t really freeze our hearts and minds right now in this moment. And when I say liberating, what I mean is that really wakes us up at out of that dream or trance of being a separate, limited self.
What really wakes us up and allows us to realize the awareness and loving that’s really intrinsic. So that was really my inquiry. Really. What is it? What I’ve noticed over the years, is that it doesn’t matter what formal practice, tradition, or spiritual, or religious path we’re on. It doesn’t matter if it’s Buddhist or Christian or Jewish or ___. Whatever it is, really, what it comes down to, when I watch people over the decades now, what really unfolds towards more freedom has to do with attitude. A way of holding our spiritual practices, and our spiritual life. Not the particular technologies, you know.
So, what I’d like to do, what I felt drawn to do, or share tonight some reflections I had and really what you might describe as the three most fundamental attitudes that are really, what I would say the grounds of freedom of really waking up. And what I’ll do, use some of my experiences on the last few weeks, just because they’re quite with me right now to highlight, but to even before we speak of attitude, underneath that is aspiration. It’s like, what really brings us to the path, because that’s what energizes all of the unfolding. That’s what shapes our attitude. And it’s a question I ask at the beginning of every meditation. What’s your intention?
So, when we start investigating, and this is pretty much most people I’ve seen that are practicing with you know, what’s intention, realize that they’re layered. And if we’re coming from you know, hyper, busy day, and we say, okay, what’s my intention? We might come up with some pre-packaged ideas, but we’re not going to be connected to that depths of sincerity. So they’re layered. And sometimes, and it’s quite natural than more superficial level of intention, have to do with “should’s.” You know, I should be doing this to be a better person or to meet some standard in some way. Some guild kind of to do with it.
And there’s other intentions like one and from immediate relief from stress. Some ease, wanting to feel good about ourselves, wanting to actually control our lives about ___, and find, get more centered, I’ll be on top of things, so there’s kind of a control thing. And sometimes, people meditate so they cannot feel certain things. Meditation is easily used as an escape. So there are layers like that. But in a way, if you stay with them, you find in the seeds and each of those go down much deeper to a place in us that really longs to know the truth. Longs to know reality. Like there’s something in us that wants to know, you know, what is this? What is this mystery that we’re involved with? And there’s a deep longing in us that wants to be freed to love without holding back. You know, there’s a deep longing and it’s just to be fully what we are to manifest.
So that’s what I call the deeper levels and they’re not coming from egoic intention, which is trying to control and feel better and not feel bad. They’re coming from really the awareness in love, thus calling us home. No more in touch with deep aspiration and that’s what it is. And there’s Science. You can feel the sincerity. Your body feels more sincere. So, it’s easy to forget. It’s easy in our habitual daily trance to lose touch with what really matters and get very immediate and goal oriented and fixated. And then, we find that we have to slow down and quiet to get back in touch. I remember my first Buddhist retreat was about 27 years ago. I kind of have to remember it from my, when my son was born. How hold he was. And I remember that after a couple of days, I really started settling and getting, you know, quite quiet.
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