More and more, the teaching practice takes me into the community where I engage directly with students. My focus right now is on bringing the continuity of the Dharma into the market place. Although retreating is an important form for self-knowledge, I find myself less interested in the immediate results of a retreat and more interested in helping students investigate their relationship to the ups and downs of their everyday life.
Nature, death and spontaneous freedom continually interweave themselves into my teaching. From the forest of Thailand, where I spent several years, I bring a deep awareness of the healing quality of nature into my teachings. Relaxing into our true nature allows us to realize what it means to be a human being. It is here we find a resting point, a counterbalance to the speed and turbulence of our culture.
My work in hospice brings a sense of urgency into my teaching. Working with the theme of death and dying reveals the here and now of life to us, how important it is to open to each loss, change and transition that marks our path. Life is precious. We need to awaken without hesitation.
Many of us crave to be more calm and centered. We know that life has more to offer than this fleeting material world. For each of us, the Dharma offers an immediacy of freedom for which we do not have to strive or wait. In practice, we can learn to relax deeply into the moment and rediscover spontaneous freedom.
Study a few of your behaviors this week such as sleeping, eating, or recreational enjoyment such as listening to music or watching videos. How much of these activities arise from self-indulgence and how much from self-kindness? Are all forms of entertainment self-indulgent? Since almost any action can be either indulgent or kind, what determines which way you label it?
When you consider yourself equally deserving (self-love) then the quality of your action is as important as the result. Do you believe this is a true statement? What does self-love have to do with the way you do things? Isn't it good enough that the results benefit others? Explore this question this week and watch whether you consider yourself equally deserving in your actions.
Questions for personal inquiry: Do you experience most interpersonal relationships as growth opportunities or troubling? Do you make space in your life for others? Do you frequently feel isolated and lonely? How much of the isolation comes from assumptions about self and other? Do you make the effort to attend gatherings of like-minded people? Reflection: What was your life like before you knew the existence of "a Path"? What is different now? How does the sangha support that Path and your growth on it? Would the Path be the same without the sangha? What efforts do you make to build cohesion in the sangha? Exercise: Become active in your support of like-minded people. Befriend someone from the sangha, volunteer for a community activity, join a like-minded group or become socially engaged in meaningful action. The sangha like the dharma takes each one of us to make it complete.
What prevents me from being responsible here and now? Be aware of superficial explanations about your circumstances or busyness. Continue to ask the question through the range of excuses. Whenever the mind stops and says, "This is the reason," pause, and ask yourself if this is true. Is your ability to hold responsibility strengthened through living this question?