Totally Open, Present, There

Totally Open, Present, There

Discussion date: Thu, Oct 11, 2007 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday Evening, after our meditation period, we will read the FiveMindfulness Trainings.  Our dharma discussion will explore thefourth training: Mindful Speech.

Beverly Winterscheid, whowill be our discussion facilitator, wishes to focus the discussion onhow we often split ourselves, mid-conversation, so we are no longerfully there. We will begin with an excerpt by Pema Chodron on how webecome split (from the November 2007 issue of The Shambhala Sun):

Ihave often spoken of shenpa, the Tibetan term for the hook in our mindthat snags us and prevents us from being open and receptive….We coverover our innate wisdom, our innate intelligence, with rapidlyescalating, highly charged shenpa-oozing emotionality …. one hookafter another.

What are we to do about that?  We couldsay that this emotionality is bad and we have to get rid of it. But that brings problems too.  Since this approach will not work,what we need to do is to neither reject nor indulge in our ownemotional energy, but instead come to know it.  Then, as ChogyamTrungpa Rinpoche taught, we can transmute the confusion of emotionsinto wisdom.  In simple terms we must gain the capacity to slowly,over time, become one with our own energy instead of splittingoff.  We must learn to use the tools we have available totransform this moment of splitting in two.

Let’s say you’rehaving a conversation with someone.  You’re one with the wholesituation.  You’re open and receptive and there andinterested.  Then there is a little shenpa pulling-away, a kind ofuneasy feeling in the stomach – which we usually don’t notice – andthen comes our big thought.  We are suddenly verbalizing toourselves, “How am I looking here?  Did I just say somethingstupid?”

Some thought or other causes us to split off, andbefore we know it we’re completely self-absorbed.  We’re probablynot even hearing the words of the person we’re conversing with, becausewe have retreated into a bubble of self-absorption.  That’ssplitting off.  That’s dividing in two.

The Buddha taughtabout this basic split as the birth of dualism, the birth of selfversus other, of me versus you.  It happens moment aftermoment.  When we start out, we are “one-with.” We’re simplylistening and there.  And then, split!  We pull back into ourown worry or concern or even our own elation.  Somehow we’re nolonger together.  Now it’s more about me and self, rather thanthem and other.  By contrast, being “one-with” is neither aboutother nor about self.  It’s just totally open, present, there.

Theinitial questions Beverly wishes to consider are: When do we split –in what situations do these “hooks”, or “shenpa” that prevent us frombeing open and receptive, arise in our lives?  What splits inus?  How do we return to being open, present, there?

You are invited to be with us.

The text of the Fourth Training on Mindful Speech is below.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


Fourth Mindfulness Training

Awareof the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listento others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deeplistening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieveothers of their suffering.

Knowing that words can createhappiness or suffering, I am committed to learning to speak truthfully,with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determinednot to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not tocriticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain fromuttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can causethe family or the community to break. I will make all efforts toreconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Discussion Date: Thu, Oct 11, 2007


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