The opposite of falling asleep...
Vajrayana teachings speak of two levels of experience, the relative and the ultimate. In this human form, we are engaged on the relative level, which is always interconnected with the ultimate. When we approach the deity in formal visualization practice, who is none other than our own true nature, we engage the process of awakening. I like to think of it as falling into awareness. This is the opposite of falling asleep, or remaining in ignorance. On the ultimate level, we have never strayed from our primordially pure true nature. It’s just that we forget, and meditation practice is the tool to tapping back in.
When we practice any kind of meditation, whether on the cushion, walking, in a dojo, or yoga class; simply pausing in time, we access timeless awareness. But what about life in action?
These challenging times call us to powerful prayer at home, at work, in the streets, in the political arena, whether with friends, family, strangers or colleagues. In an ordinary conversation or in an active conflict, opportunities arise to instantly draw on our grounding, the basis of wisdom and compassion in action. Staying rooted in remembering our true nature, beyond temporal personality, gives us a place from which to act with awareness, as opposed to being reactionary. As meditation graduates from the cushion to the sidewalk, we integrate wisdom-compassion in our everyday world, and find strength and patience for more difficult encounters.
It has been said of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh that, “It is impossible to distinguish between his social work and his enlightenment work.”* Our planet is bursting with conflict, whether in Syria, Tibet, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Turkey, North Dakota, our workplace, neighborhoods or at home. ( "Peace is Every Step" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpyWD7y84ms. )
Where there are human beings, there is suffering.
We suffer from “I-me-mine-itis,” a corrupt self-absorption based on hope and fear. The key antidote is looking towards others less fortunate than ourselves who fill the Earth. The crucial response to pervasive hate, fear and ultraviolence of our times is vaster love, deeper tolerance, and firmer commitment to help end suffering. Embodying, expressing and enacting relative and ultimate bodhicitta (genuine heart of awakening) through prayer and action, we earnestly pray and work for the good of others; all others. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, Gandhi, and so many others; the great spiritual leaders of our times have always engaged in peaceful protest, meditation and prayer, speaking out tirelessly, putting their lives on the line, to bring justice to the oppressed.
Balance between prayer and action
Here and now, our very planet is at stake, not only humanity. Time is too short to merely pray, and relying only on action we may forget the ground of wisdom.
May we tirelessly call upon the wisdom and compassion of the great teachers of all traditions, to realize our timeless true nature, and to end the suffering of countless beings through selfless generosity and heartful, intelligent action.
In the spirit of drawing inspiration and support from our connectedness, I'd like to ask: What are your preferred ways to fall back into awareness? How do these methods benefit those you meet? Please reply below.
Photo: Courtesy of Lakota Beauchamp of First Nations, www.pinterest.com