Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sharon Salzberg: We Can Choose To Transform Our Minds So That They Embody Love

Whatever our religious or spiritual tradition, there is wisdom held here that I believe we humans and our beautiful planet deeply need. There is so much violence and ignorance and harm that arises from the great disconnection that so much of humankind experiences. I also speak to this from the humility, compassion, and wisdom of my own personal experience of knowing both sides - of being asleep and deeply impaired in my connection with myself and others, and of a gradual awakening to the profound experience of interbeing. However, it wasn't until many years ago when I first began to stand still and heal my heart and mind that I even knew how separate, fearful, and disconnected I was. This way of being in the world that was largely rooted in disconnection was what I knew and what was familiar and I was simply ignorant that life could be experienced very differently. Now, and for over 30 years, I have been gradually awakening to the interconnectedness that weaves through us all. I can see the Sacred within myself and within you. This is light years away from the many years I lived in pretense and image management and fear and a great loneliness, the loneliness of separation. Another world is truly possible. And it does indeed begin within each and every one of us. As Thích Nhất Hạnh states, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." 
Warmest blessings ~ Molly 

Concepts can rule us in many different ways. When we are caught in the concepts of separation, we suffer distance and alienation. We need to defend ourselves at all times because the world seems very threatening. When we experience a strong idea of separation, immutable self and other, it seems as though there is constantly a great big "other" out there. To bear this danger, we hold ourselves in tense readiness, waiting for every impact...

The legacy of separation impoverishes the spirit. Seeking only to protect ourselves, we cannot genuinely connect with others, we cannot see what needs our love, and we struggle with terrible aloneness. In trying to reach others from the stance of our isolation, we are like weary travelers preparing for a dangerous border crossing, cautiously hoping to reach a new land and make contact, secretly believing it will not be possible.  Veering between fitful hope and underlying insecurity, we have no peace. Imagine the relief of discovering that there is no such border to be crossed! It is only through seeing our fundamental connection with the world that a life of true peace becomes possible.

The ways in which we direct our minds to cultivate this seeing are all-important. This transformation of mind, releasing the burden of concepts, is not just theoretical. These is a path to actualize it. Again and again in his teachings, the Buddha explores love and connectedness. Through meditation and the brahma-viharas he offers us the possibility to radically change our relationship to life.

When we learn to move beyond mistaken concepts and see clearly, we no longer solidify reality. We see waves coming and going, arising and passing. We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual, constant transformation and flux. There is always the possibility of radical change. Every moment - not just poetically or figuratively, but literally - every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all of life.

Without the rigidity of concepts, the world becomes transparent and illuminated, as though lit from within. With this understanding, the interconnectedness of all that lives becomes very clear. We see that nothing is stagnant and nothing is fully separate, that who we are, what we are, is intimately woven into the nature of life itself. Out of this sense of connection, love and compassion arise...

Love and concern for all are not things some of us are born with and others are not. Rather, they are the results of what we do with our minds. We can choose to transform our minds so that they embody love, or we can allow them to develop habits and false concepts of separation.

- Sharon Salzberg
Excerpted from Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary
Art of Happiness

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