Unconditionally Friendly Toward Life, by Tara Brach:
About Tara Brach:
Tara Brach is a leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 35 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation. Tara is the senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. A clinical psychologist, Tara is the author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge.
Tonight’s talk is on the ways that we compartmentalize our spiritual life—how we think some parts of life is spiritual and the rest is other stuff. And in that way, not really walked through our days in a wakeful manner. The other name for this talk is Church on Sunday, with—nothing against Church on Sunday, unless that’s all there is in our lives that wakes us up.
To begin by saying that the common grounds of all Buddhist teachings is really an affirmation of our inherent capacity to awaken. All Buddhist teachings say is we’re awakening Buddhas. We’re being set, our waking our hearts and minds really discover our natural wisdom and compassion that it’s all there and its happening. And one of the descriptions of how we can express that in daily life is that we become unconditionally friendly with all that arises, and I’ve always loved that phrase—unconditionally friendly towards life. That’s a really nice feeling. I like it for several reasons. It inspires me. You can say, I love the word friendly. You know, it’s the word Metta or loving kindness, once translated in Pali, the root translation has to do with friendliness. Because when we’re feeling friendly, we feel good. Isn’t that so? Friendliness is nice. So there’s the friendly part. That there be a friendliness towards life, which connotes a deep sense of presence, because whenever we’re friendly towards someone or towards ourselves, we’re here for—we’re here for the experience.
The breadth of the term is in the word “unconditional,” that we’re not fair, ___ friends. Do you know what I mean? That we’re friendly in a way. That doesn’t change. That doesn’t stop or go away, because in some way, we feel offended. That it doesn’t go away, because things aren’t going the way we want to. But it’s not due to conditions.
So, this is one of the inspiring visions or possibilities that’s basic to the Dharma, which means to the path and as each of us knows, as much as we want to be intimate and friendly, we all turn off, shut down, numb out, take a vacation for being here, ___, regularly. It’s habitual. So, it becomes an important inquiry and question to ask regularly. It’s what blocks this unconditional friendliness. If this is the capacity, what blocks it?
What we discover—and there’s a lot of different words for it—but then in some way, we live in a sea of judgment. In what’s called comparing mind. If you watch your mind as you go through the day, it’s chronic, and it’s acute, and it’s painful. We’re always judging. It’s not always a horrific judgment like awful, terrible, you know—write-off type of judgment. But it’s always a better, worse, up, down, more power, less power, we have a lot of judgments. They go on.
Judging, sometimes, can be skillful. There’s such a thing as wise discrimination—as seeing what causes suffering and what we have to pay attention to and discriminating between what’s helpful and what’s not helpful. So this isn’t a, you know, just a blackening of any possible mental discriminations, but rather to see how so much of our judging creates pain. So how much of it, in some way, creates a distance, between ourselves and our own being and ourselves in each other. Create a distance in being in the moment.
So tonight, I’d like to explore the main domains, and I’ve kind of divided up into three. The Buddhists like to do that, you know, they have list—and three of this, and five of that, and the eight nobles, you know, lots of those. So I’m just kind of following ___ tonight.
Three compartments, three areas that we judge. And I’d like to, tonight, explore both with words and also with some guided reflections, ways that we can start including more of what we exclude in our spiritual path.
So, the first area that we compartmentalize is kind of an ___ one, which is parts of our life, that it—we come here tonight and there’s a certain quality of expectation or anticipation of we’re doing or what it means and for some of us, it’s personal growth or learning to relax. Others, spiritually waking up and being free from others—I need to torture myself a little to build some muscle—whatever it is for you. You know, but there’s some—we have an idea, and usually we get some spiritual connotation. I think.
And it’s quite different than the mood or atmosphere, expectation we have—when we’re about to go into the laundry room, and take out the laundry, and put them into the dryer, or take it from the dryer, then fold it. And its’ rare, but not never, that we let that, too, be a meditation. You know, taking out the warm clothes, and ___ them, and folding them careful. You know, making them into sacred presence also. We compartmentalize.
Sitting spiritual. Being in nature often is more spiritual. Being with certain people has that feel. And then other times, other people, other settings, in traffic in ___, when it’s 10 miles backed up, it doesn’t feel so spiritual, right? I know. I do that.
It’s natural to have preferences. It’s natural to have some activities and circumstances, be much more conducive to get in quiet, and opening our hearts, and it’s also part of our path to begin to include more and more of those areas that we get habitual, that we tune out, that we don’t like. Where we get grumpy and where we get moody.
There’s many description of the way we sometimes approach things as kind of a spiritual bulimia, where we throw ourselves in, this is spiritual time, and then we totally disassociate, and this is something else time. It’s important to look at it. ___ frequently has described his time in Thailand and ___, and some of his meetings with different monks in Asia, and in one particular meeting, he described that as ___ very struck by seeing how these theme ran through.
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