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?'
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 beauty; and 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.
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|
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.