Thursday, April 1, 2010

Every day's an interesting day

A day or two ago I spied a book at the bottom of a stack of recently purchased books, called Awakening to the Sacred by Lama Surya Das. I read a bit of it before bed. I am thinking of the sacred now, responding to Easter.

The next day, which was yesterday, I recalled the book's invitation to think of many ways you can contact the sacred, and set out with my camera to walk in the ravine. If there is any one thing I feel grateful for most often, it is the ability to walk, for I was off my feet for eight or nine months last year, and then spent months getting used to walking. Now walking meditation is not hard for me - walking is always conscious, a pleasure.

I found to my delight that walking down to the stream was nothing. Easy. I decided to take the left fork and walk on to the little bridge over which I once saw a Great Blue Heron fly - a breath-stopping sight. I turned and walked back, taking the above picture of backlit leaves coming forth like a flame. Spring is very eager around here now, the saucer magnolias getting ready to burst out for Easter. So I got lost, which is hard to do when there are only two roads, and I know them very well. Spring befuddlement. I was gone an hour.

All well and good. But last night I did a poetry reading, and as a result of all that, today I'm tired. Too tired to shower. My initial reaction this morning has been to feel sad, sorry that my energy is so low. Well, I have a little work to do to get beyond that and make my way to a deeper understanding. And I think that way is not only the Buddhist way, but also the way of the Tao, and the way of Christianity, the belief systems I am familiar with. I suspect it is the way of every religion, at heart - the spiritual understanding that things are as they are, that we can have faith in that. In reality, which moves on.

Sick or poor or alone or overburdened or in grief - there are many conditions you can wake up and find yourself in on any given day. I have a calligraphy Tom bought me a while back after I'd been working the koan, "Every day's a good day." A statement to ponder whenever you're displeased with your life. How can that possibly be true - every day's a good day - when ____. Fill in the blank.

I am sure this is not about talking yourself into cheerful, something I hate. It is more about just sitting and being with how you are without putting labels on it. Feeling the feeling, a therapist might say, but it is also discarding your ideas, assumptions as elementary as "High energy is better," and your desires, desires like "I want more energy." Sitting in meditation you actually feel the desire. Then, equally difficult, you let it pass away. If you sit in meditation or prayer for a few moments, you find even an obsessive thought pattern has passed and you are thinking about something else, like folding the towels in the dryer, or the chalk whiteness of the sycamores across the ravine.

To some degree we pass beyond the very words "good" and "bad." After all, evaluation is not the direct experience of reality, but a concept structure that exists only in the mind. If I do discard those words, I seem to experience life more as interesting, and absorbing. Sheba here at my left hand, getting some good petting because I am rereading what I wrote, not typing. She's got this figured out in that tiny brain about the size of a walnut. Simple. Mom sits at the computer every morning, and when I come over, walking carefully between the keyboard and the screen, she turns on the desk lamp for me. And pats me. Every day's a good day.


  1. Hi, Dalai Grandma. I would just like to thank you for your wisdom and beautifully sad words. I have read Lama Surya Das' work, and I remember how much it helped me through a difficult time in my life. My constant struggle, I think, is to accept change -- both good and bad changes. But, once I slow down and realize that change is the way of the universe, I find comfort. I find comfort when I close my eyes and think of how I am just one small being in the universe. How I am one with all things. How, despite my smallness, I hold a universe within me, too.

  2. Wonderful reminder that everything is fine just the way it is. boy do I know this one, wanting to reject not feeling well. Hard to see sometimes when we're in the middle of it. And yet as you point out these are the places where we learn the most, those places we think we'd rather not be. It is here that we learn to surrender.