Dear Still Water Friends,
Just about every January, I find myself making grand plans for the coming year. I’m typically feeling confined due to winter weather and the lull in activities that always occurs after the rush of the holiday season. The new year has dawned and I’ve got lots of pent-up energy. Inevitably, I end up daydreaming about the months to come, often while sitting in front of my computer. Before I know it, I’ve reserved concert tickets, camping cabins, summer vacations, and Buddhist retreats. The calendar is suddenly all filled up before the year has really begun.
Now, 8 months later, the children are going back to school. The summer is nearly over and we are transitioning into autumn. As often happens, I’m reflecting on how quickly the year has gone by and how full the weeks have felt. At times, I must admit, too full. Back in January when I was making all those grand plans, I forgot that some opportunities manifest without any advance planning at all, and if the calendar is already all filled up, there’s no space for those to occur. I forgot that sometimes work and sickness intervene and make plans impossible to carry out. I also forgot that the intrinsic beauty of spring and summer doesn’t require tickets or reservations – but it does need time to notice and appreciate. While I’ve enjoyed everything we’ve done over the last 8 months, I find myself wanting next year to trust more and plan less, allowing a bit more spontaneity and present moment contentment to arise.
In the book Living in the Light of Death: on the art of being truly alive, Larry Rosenberg writes:
Our mind is constantly calculating. We want to get from A to B or, if we are really ambitious, A to Z. This practice is about getting from A to A. It takes an expansive approach to the present moment, experiencing the full range of what is happening.
We tend to think of the present moment as a means to some end. If I just do this in moment A, I think, I will be happy in moment B. But in this practice every moment is a means and an end. The point of moment A is just moment A. There is no moment B in which you will be more fulfilled than in moment A. Every moment is absolute truth.
The Buddha’s teaching is about awakening, or liberation, and that sounds like a goal. But the only way to get there is fully to be where you are, absolutely present in this moment.
This Thursday in our Dharma sharing, we’ll talk together about our experiences of maintaining present moment awareness as an end unto itself. How do we let that awareness permeate our lives so that it really becomes present moment contentment?
In addition, you are invited to join us this Thursday for a brief newcomer’s orientation to mindfulness practice and the Still Water community. The orientation will begin at 6:30 pm and participants are encouraged to stay for the evening program. If you would like to attend the orientation, it is helpful if you let us know by emailing us at info@StillWaterMPC.org.
Mind Wanting More
Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down. Otherwise,
clouds. Sea rippled here and
there. Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.
But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.
~ Holly Hughes