Training The Heart to Awaken, by Erin Treat:
About Erin Treat:
Erin lives in Durango, Colorado and is a member of the Dharma Leader Council of the Durango Dharma Center. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Training and is currently a teacher in training as part of the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program.
So, good evening, everybody.
I feel like I kind of want to say congratulations, because you’ve just about to make it through the first day of the retreat. For some of you, it’s your first day of your retreat ever. And it often doesn’t matter how many years we practice for. Often, the first day of the retreat is the most challenging day as our bodies and minds settle into this quiet-tude often so different from our daily lives.
These are few words from the great Persian person, ___. Sometimes, you hear a voice through the door calling you as a fish out of water hears the waves, come back, come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you. Come back, come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
So, I just wanted to begin with that as a reminder to invite you to kind of keep that at the front of your experience. What it was that really brought you here. You’re on one level, we come, because we want to learn on how to meditate, or we want some retreat time. But as we turn more and more toward what we really love, it has something to do with truth, it has something to do with deeper connection and a fuller expression of who we are, so while today as you are standing in line or feeling the heat pounding down on you, you might have thought, this is not what I really love. What I really love is an ice latte right now. We’re turning toward what we deeply love.
We forgo these little momentary pleasures to make room for what matters most to us. So we’re in the process. We’re in the process of doing this together and whether you believe it or not, the process is underway and the power presence is here. The power of presence is doing some work.
So tonight, I’m just going to say some words that I hope will support you in where you are on the retreat, and then I hope will help you to just have a framing and an understanding of what it is we’re doing here.
So one way that I’d like to understand this practice is one of learning to be more fully human together. What we are stepping into embodying, more of who we really are. That we’re learning to be real together. Real in the sense of non-delusion. Real in the sense of letting it all hang out. Letting ourselves be natural and, you know that feeling, right? When you’re showing up in a way that’s real. You might feel more spontaneous or alive, or connected, but not ___ so much through these masks and ___ shells that keep us separate.
As we love the house that you got built, we turn toward what’s real. We actually have to get to know that there is a host, because part of the delusion is that there’s no house that there’s no host. So, in this practice, we’re getting to know all the ___ in the places with the cobwebs, the dark alleys, the bright lights streaming through the windows, all of the territory—the inner territory, the inner terrain in our lives. The word human comes from the Latin word humus, like soil, like the organic matter that becomes good for planting. That’s humus, excuse me, not the humus like what we had for dinner last night. It’s the humus, you know what I’m talking about. The kind of material, the organic material that’s so good to plan, and it comes from this process of turning over and cooking, and composting, which is a little bit of what is happening on this retreat. But the Latin, the Latin word humus is soil, or ground. And so I like that image, how this instruction today started with feeling our bodies as the earth, and the elements. And when we think of ourselves and our connection to soil and ground, it brings us down and in, so this practice is really about coming down and in more than needing to come up and out and transcend. I like to think of it as becoming more and more the human being-ness that we are.
So, you might ask how do we do this, how does an unenlightened person move in the direction of being an enlightened person, how does this confusion inside of us begin to dawn as clarity and as understanding? And it has a lot to do with letting go. A lot to do with letting be. Because letting go really starts of letting be. And I wanted to speak about this a little bit, because it’s an area where I see a lot of ___ struggle with the misunderstanding about what we mean by letting go.
Often, ___ comes to practice with the idea that letting go means we need to get rid of our quirks, that we need to—I don’t know, never be bothered by anything. Be perfectly still, and unruffled and calm all the time, but that’s not really the picture of freedom as I know. When you look to people on this world, like the ___ is a good example that are really awakened, that are really quite free, and he’s joyful, he can be in tears, because is so touched in one moment, and be cracking up in the next moment. There’s a huge range of how he embodies freedom through his human heart, and often, there’s this tension when we come to practice that I need to let go. Okay, I want to put down this story, or I wish my mind would settle down, or I’d like to think of myself as a patient person, and I’m standing in line waiting for dinner, and it’s taking forever, just get me the tomato soup. You might know how this feels where there can be this tension around letting go as I talk about it. It’s actually happening with my hand. It’s a little like that.
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