28 Nov
Posted in: Practice, Talks
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I’m Thankful I’m Alive

In honor of Thanksgiving, I offer this excerpt from an article by Wes Nisker, reprinted in the latest issue of Spirit Rock News….for which I am also thankful:

Strange to say so, but one of the best things I learned in meditation is that I’m alive. I had rarely noticed it, but through increasing awareness of body and breath I began to pay attention to this mysterious condition. Now my identity includes the fact that I am one of the living! I am a live one!

You too are a member of the sangha of the living. Welcome. Glad you could make it. Life on earth  is now appearing as (your name here).

The path of meditation reminds us that we are alive by leading us from our heads into our bodies. We come down from the story of our life to the fact of our life.

My teacher S.N. Goenka told me to sweep my body with awareness, and slowly but surely I became familiar with my nose and my toes, and what the poet Mary Oliver calls the world of “lime and appetite, the oceanic fluids.” This bag of bones and seawater came alive and started to take over my ego as the foundation of my identity. You might say, I was “born again,” as an animal. I had to join a grand and venerable sangha.

When I witness myself in the story of evolution, I feel a surge of compassion for the struggles of all my life. Let’s face it, the basic rules on this planet are nasty and brutish. But the phrase, “May all being be happy” has a deeper ring to it when I regard myself in the same world as those who dress in feathers, fur, scales, leaves and bark.

Now when I sit in mediation I can feel my aliveness, my mammalian condition, my species self. I also sense my practice as part of a group effort by human beings to awaken to a new kind of freedom and sanity. In the light of that big perspective, I thank you for being on my team, part of this exciting project, helping us all to realize our precious, collective, human potential.”


(image from Carnaval de Venise, by Fulvio Roiter)

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