During our conversation, I had said in response to a spiritual reading he shared that I’ve never really felt deeply at one with all beings. Intellectually yes, but deeply no. Then all of a sudden this poem came back to me with the realization that I did have a moment, or moments, once where I did truly feel deeply at one with all beings.
Who am I?
I am the tree I see,
The flower that blooms,
The morning rain,
And the cold night air.
I am the bird in flight,
The wounded bear,
The howling wolf,
And the dog lying before the fire.
I am the laughing child,
The old lady begging,
The dope addict,
And the forgetful old man.
I am all things,
And I am nothing
How did I lose that feeling? I had often thought, after the retreat, that it would be good to do a mini at-home retreat one week each month to stay in that special place I had found, but out of shear laziness I never implemented that plan. I realize now though that I lost that feeling because my meditation practice had largely become a practice of finding answers to current issues by reciting mantras that focused me on the Buddha’s teaching. This was the same type of meditation practice I had before the retreat … reminding me of the truth, rather than finding it fresh every day. And that made it less real. As my friend commented, I’ve been too much in my head,
And so, I returned to a basic meditation practice as I did during that at-home retreat (for a complete description of the retreat and my experience, see my book, The Self in No Self). After several days, I could already feel a subtle difference within me, something was shifting, I was coming home, just as I did when I started the at-home retreat. I was finding it fresh.
Then one morning, my ego-mind attacked me with a vengeance when I started meditating. It found an opening, a weak spot, in something I said in a discussion the previous evening about having what I need, what’s important to me, right here, right now, each moment of every day, regardless of my circumstance.
My mind used my fear of not having enough money, to being forced to live in a way I never have, to being poor, destitute to scoff at that thought. It dug it’s claws into me and would not let go. I tried repeatedly to return to my breathing and be present, but to no avail. I found myself agreeing that it was silly if not stupid of me to think that I didn’t need a certain amount of money to be happy. I was in the process of being carried away by fear.
I finally stopped this spiral by purposefully shifting to another part of my meditation practice. Once I was refocused, I recalled several events from the previous day. It started off with my friend saying that we would spend the day being present, accepting that this is where we live now, this is our home, and not have any thoughts about the future or our move. Instead of feeding the feeling that we needed to get away from here, we would be at peace and relaxed. And it worked, of course.
Later in the day, he verbalized what he had to be grateful for. And not one word was mentioned that concerned material things. It focused primarily on having someone to offer joy to, someone to love.
And then that evening before we went to bed, he read a page from Pima Chodron’s The Wisdom of No Escape. That reading about being satisfied with who we are, and where we are, right at the moment, that we have everything we need within ourselves to live life joyously, brought such a feeling of peace over me.
After recalling these events, I found I had the strength to return to my breathing and just be present. My ego mind with it’s fears subsided. I was aware that all I needed to be happy was to offer others joy, be in the company of loved ones and friends, respect my mind, respect my body, be in touch with nature, and live within my means. And that regardless what life would throw my way, I had faith that all would be well because I would always return to my true Buddha nature, be at peace, and find happiness in the moment.