Do We Have It Easy?

Paved roads everywhere; diet modification as per the fashion of the day; food whenever we want; cheap everything from China (for a little while longer) cars, phones, and pleasure, pleasure everywhere...

Don't get me wrong... I am grateful for it all. I recognise that my degree of privilege includes being critical of my privilege. However, I'd like to look at the fine balance which keeps many upon that treacherous edge of addiction and over-consumption.

It's easy to imagine a person addicted to say, buying shoes, so I'd like to take the idea of 'purchasing' a little deeper into the realm of thoughts. Imagine that each thought we create is like a kind of financial transaction, and in so doing, ask: what am I purchasing with this thought? What am I agreeing to be responsible for by following through on this 'transaction?' 

"Heathrow Mindfulness..."
If you find that to be labyrinthine - don't worry - as watching ones thoughts is much like a foreign exercise. It is much different that following ones thoughts. If you have a good pot of tea nearby, I think you'll get along much farther, and it would be my hope that you experience that dreaded word - discipline - as something which is instead both gentle and loving.

Just as an example: I'm currently staying with two lovely-hearted pups in the Kootenays. Last night while trying to sleep, and again this morning, these two free spirits were joining in with the wilderness chorus: barking at birds, barking at squirrels, barking at the fog, barking at their own breath... if they were "barking for cancer" we'd have a billion dollars raised by 2pm.

Now, for my money, discipline is a stoic beautyand airspace, is noise-space, even on the solitude of a mountaintop. To know, and love, solitude, is to hear it... One of the greatest joys I've ever known is a true and complete silence - like listening to trees breathe on a windless day - and I would listen to such a movement non-stop if I didn't have to break for tea, food, bathing, and tending to the fire. Certainly the mind is "lively," and when we match our mind to our potential (Thomas Cleary), there is something Other which moves in tandem with us.

So too with these pups. And so too with our sense of self. Mindfulness is constant abiding, standing in contrast to the over-consumptive norm. And yes, it involves a little (gentle) discipline. Where there is sentience, there lay the seeds of Mindfulness.
Discipline is that thing which guides us whether we want it to or not. Some are very disciplined in being un-disciplined. Truly! However: discipline is the rudder to the ship, the keel to the waves, the sail holding the wind, and the bow pointing toward our visions. It gives our lives form. Regardless of the knowledge that 'we are all one,' and so-forth, our bodies do travel through this time contained to our form, and needing to interact with other things of form. We are interdependent at best - for the time being - yet I would argue that our course is better-made by a little prior preparation (photo source)

One can easily argue formlessness an equal pursuit of Mindfulness. However, without a practise to support this aspect of mind - this way of observing oneself with the world - there are truly many dangers. Becoming a total blockhead, for starters, and then, falling into oblivion.

I have found one beauty which is a close second to the radiant silence of the mountainside, and that is a wonder-filled pup who knows his or her place. A pup always wishes to do the right thing. Always. Those big brown eyes looking up to us always reveal the mind of their inner-puppy, up until we give them our constant and loving guidance. If we ourselves are disciplined with them, they grow into the very things which we do feed them.

To illustrate: I once ate an entire steak at a fireside with a beautiful big black lab beside me. There were all kinds of opportunities for me to loose that steak, as I was sitting in a lawn chair, dinner in my lap. "Happy," as the pup was named, didn't budge. He never once begged: never once whined, never once hunted about for scraps. He kept me good company, and kept watch on the fire and what may have come upon us from outside the fire's circle.

Happy, was Zen.

Odin & MacKenzie
Discipline's finest, is cooperation. It is an appreciation of self, and where we might travel aboard that self. And such was that time by the fireside with Happy, a place to travel. Discipline creates an interdependence not only with each other, but also with our higher selves. Our visions for our lives are a guaranteed beauty, and when we arrive to our place, so much of that scattered liveliness simply falls away from the forefront of our minds. Our wishing and hopes see the way through any turmoil given -when given a chance to be heard - and when we stand tall upon the deck of our own sea-faring vessel, each moment asks of us for greater degrees of navigation. It is impossible to steer the ship with any confidence or safety from the crows-nest...

I see too many young people lost at sea today and my heart goes out to them, as I myself have spent many months tossed about by waves, having believed oblivion, enlightenment. Though this is clearly not the exercise of Mindfulness, such a time to wander may be necessary when one leaves a nest. Our spirit's best health needs constant tending lest we allow ourselves to sink into anything less than a pleasurable alertness; and often, the arising youth within us needs a good long walk. Death by pleasure and wonder is just as much the prison as anything, and by such I am an advocate of little daily inner housekeepings - themselves a pleasure.

These beautiful pups know that every chirp and squeak in the forest is not a true danger, but their barks say otherwise, revealing a restless state of mind. The same way coughing in the theatre can be contagious, so too do the dogs in the valley set one another off. No doubt the small pleasures feel hilarious - and certainly 'squirrel-versus-dog' is a grand way to let off steam and have a good laugh - but without being able to return to a steady presence, a mindfulness in action, we miss out on the larger, grander, pleasures to be found within our time.

Steadiness in silence has been key for me. It is so rare to find such in ourselves or in the world, but we are given one chance here, so far as I can tell: One chance in this body and mind to uncover something of true wonder for ourselves. All the forms of pleasure in the universe do not combined reveal it, and yet its invitation does not cease for our seeing it.

Kindly and with love I wish for you regular and resolute periods of great calm.