Living in Community

When Pema Chodron talks about shenpa, she refers to living intimately with others.

I love that her teachings because they have made me aware that my irritations are my own issues. It keeps me aware of the lessons I would like to learn instead of thinking that I must teach someone else. “Aha!” she says as she lives with four other women for a month.

This pleasure trip could have become a nightmare if I had mindlessly and habitually closed my heart and opened my mouth. Instead, it has been a wonderful practice. My moments of irritation, self-righteousness, and assumed martyrdom were contained within my thoughts long enough to sift a bit of ego from the mix before pouring out respect and consideration when I finally spoke.

I feel encouraged. Not because I did it perfectly (Not!), but because I was aware of the pitfalls much of the time. I was happy to have remembered Pema’s words when I began to shrink into the seclusion of resentment. It helped me to make my times of isolation short and the joys of sharing  more bountiful.

Once again, thank you, Pema.

The Student

 

 

 

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Filed under Pema Chodron, The False Power of Ego

Fear of Death

IMG_0656“Death undoes us less, sometimes, than the hope that it will never come.” Pico Iyer

I’m thinking about death because we are once again facing the reality: a friend’s child has died in a climbing accident.

My heart aches for the family of this young man. Because of social media I have been touched by a photograph of his grandparents waiting by the phone. I’ve read the comments of his friends from around the globe. I’ve communicated, personally, with the young man’s parents and siblings and know that they are struggling to cope.

I am amazed at how soon I have made this about me. My fear of a personal loss took my breath away and shoved my compassion to the side.

I quickly internalized the loss and contacted my granddaughter.  Because she is in the same age bracket and lives a similar lifestyle of wilderness adventure and physical challenge, she was immediately on my mind.  “Be careful,” I warned.

Death is a part of life. We all know this. It is a truism and a pat response to loss. It is not, however, an easy part of life. We have all faced some loss and know that in varying degrees it changes us.

Fear of death is worse, though, don’t you think?

I don’t fear my own death. I spend my fear shoving away the possibility of losing those I love the most. At times this possibility cripples me with dread.  And for what?

Did the text to my granddaughter really save her as she ventured into the woods? Did it make her more mindful? Or did it only serve to limit her joy?

And the parents of the young man – is their sorrow now more painful than their fear during their search for him? Their waiting and wondering? Will their acceptance of reality be more difficult than their imaginings?  I don’t know their answers.

However, I have lived through the death of precious family members and friends – one moment at a time. Some moments were full of pain. Some were filled with sweet memories. None were filled with fear. Death is not unbearable. It is the fear of death…

The Student

 

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Filed under Quotations, Self-examination

Asking Myself…

P1010592.JPG“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
― Rumi

I have no fear of dying. This has been my assertion since 2007. I have discovered that it is partially true.

What comes after death does not concern me. Whether I term it eternity in the Christian sense or regard death as another phase in my soul’s journey, I am at peace with it. Do I believe in reincarnation? Well, I don’t disbelieve. Do I believe in heaven? Maybe, maybe not. This is not a puzzle for me that needs an answer.

However, as I let my thoughts turn inward and reflect another truth, I recognize that I fear not being here. Not because of any worry about the other side, but because of what I may or may not leave behind. My ego steps up and cries out for assurance. Will you think kindly of me? Have I done my life’s work? Is my life contract ready to be stamped with a sign of approval?

This discovery about myself is going to take some more thought. I need to pour it out, scatter it around and reassemble it in ways that I understand before I let it slip through my fingers.

The Student

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Filed under Rumi, Self-Acceptance Project, The False Power of Ego