9 Sep
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The Mystery All Around Us

It will be my turn to lead the Sunday Sangha group this coming weekend. I wanted to continue our conversation about the teaching/experience of “non-self,” but I wasn’t sure what I would bring as a reading, until I opened my email and found this: an interview with Jack Kornfield, recently published in Spirituality and Health magazine. Here’s an excerpt.

Q: You’ve mentioned “the mystery” a couple of times during this conversation. What do you mean?

A: One of the great gifts of a contemplative moment or practice is that as we quiet the mind and soften the heart and look around, we see the mystery all around us, whether it’s of trees or rainfall or the forms of the earth or our own human body.

How did we get in here — this strange, bipedal form with a hole at one end, into which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals and grind them up and glug them down through the tube for energy, and poop them out the other end? We ambulate by falling in one direction and catching ourselves, and falling in the other direction and catching ourselves. We have the capacity to make sounds by pushing air by our vocal cords and shaping our mouths, and I can say “Golden Gate Bridge,” and you can picture that.

No one really knows exactly how that happens. They know how the sodium-potassium balance changes in the auditory nerve and goes to the auditory centers of the brain. But beyond that, that interdependence, the web in which we live is so mysterious. And it’s the same web that spins the galaxies and turns our seasons.

So, to meditate, in some way, is to be able to stop and listen to the dance or the music of life with a sense of reverence and connectedness and awe. And from that, then tend your life and tend this world beautifully.

Q: And yet, some not-so-positive stuff also comes up when we meditate, such as grief and despair. Is it important to focus on the positive stuff on a spiritual journey?

No. A spiritual path opens you to the 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows. It cracks the heart open to weep at the loss of species. It allows you to honorably feel the tears that you carry from your own personal trauma or from the death and loss or tragedy around you personally and more broadly.

But we can also become loyal to our suffering. And suffering, while it’s vast and can be tended with great compassion, is not the end of the story.

The end of the story is love and freedom. And this is possible for you. We don’t do it by ignoring the suffering around us, but by knowing that who we are and what life is, is greater than that


Read the full interview here.

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