LOTUS OF THE HEART
Living in Love beyond Beliefs
Recently, in a meditation session at a Buddhist sangha, we engaged in Insight Meditation, or Vipassanna, with directions on how to do it correctly. I had moved from that years prior, but decided to join in as one with everyone there. Afterward, during break, I relaxed in the chair, turned myself and leaned onto the back of the chair with my left arm, looked out a small window under the ceiling to my far left, and found I was then more relaxed, open, and receptive in a natural way than when trying to meditate correctly. I was not doing this correctly, and maybe that was the point. I had tried to meditate correctly, as told that morning. Then, this afterward, what I call here relaxed openness. So, let us continue.
The rich industrialist from the North was
horrified to find the Southern fisherman
lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
"Why aren't you out fishing?" said the industrialist.
"Because I have caught enough fish for
this day," said the fisherman.
"Why don't you catch some more?"
"What would I do with it?"
You could earn more money," was the reply.
"With that you could have a motor fixed
to your boat and go into deeper waters
and catch more fish.
Then you would make enough to buy nylon
nets. These would bring you more fish and
more money. Soon you would have enough
money to own two boats . . . maybe even a
fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich
man like me."
"What would I do then?"
"Then you could really enjoy life."
"What do you think I am doing right now?"
*Anthony de Mello. "The Contented Fisherman." In The Song of the Bird.
* * *
To relax derives from Latin "to loosen back." To relax is the opposite of tension; to be relaxed is to be content.
Spirituality entails learning to ease the stress of trying to get something more we think will make us happy, trying to make life work out a certain way, trying to make sure we are and have enough. We learn to trust the natural flow of life. We affirm what we have in the moment is enough, we now are enough. We learn to give ourselves permission to lighten up and enjoy ourselves for the pure blessing of enjoyment, needing no justification from anyone to immerse ourselves in the glory of the present.
* * *
Meditation is a means to set aside time to practice this natural relaxation. Then, over time, this permeates time outside formal meditation.
Relaxation itself is not enough, however. Relaxation is a means to bodily, wakeful openness to life, not being sedated in some trance-life state, which, I sense, many mistake for meditation. That is, relaxed zoning out, so to speak, such as when listening to music with sound effects, now popular, is not meditation. Another example, going into meditation and entering a slumber state, and calling this 'meditation' ~ yes, deeply relaxing, not meditation.
Within relaxed receptivity ~ receptive for wakeful ~ will arise varied movements, some more relaxed, some more tense; the background, however, becomes the yielding openness able to embrace even marked tenseness as only a moment in the flow that always changes. Few persons would fathom what this contented embrace of tenseness is. Yet, if one tries to maintain a relaxation as a stable state of body-mind, that effort itself creates tenseness and negates contented relaxation.
Relaxed and open, we are with the flow, we watch the flow, we celebrate our physical and mental selves are in the flow. We are seer and seen. We come to celebrate this paradox ~ both being with the flow wakefully and thankfully (communion), and acceptance of being in the flow with everyone, everything, even of the unseen (union).
* * *
One of the main things, however, most of us must face and resolve is that likely the culture in which we live will in no way validate the importance of this relaxed-open way of life. This is a reason few will follow this way, and many who start will not continue, yielding again to the current of apparently justified busyness, inundation with entertainment, and infatuation with distraction from the bliss of life itself.
I found this resistance when I served as a pastor in Christian churches. Persons had not been educated in the value of silence for example, and were afraid of it. So, even in a so-called holy place, where we said 'God' was present, persons had to be busy with singing, making announcements, preaching, quoting a creed, saying prayers... I had fallen in love, truly, with a way of life I sensed would draw persons closer to their 'God,' but persons could not see the felt-need to be in control was closing themselves off from the subtle Sacredness they longed for ~ That beyond word and act. In some sense, the fear could be said to be justified, for in the relaxed, silent openness to Grace, we no longer can hide behind deeds and words. So, is there any better place to hide than in a church, or any apparently holy gathering, where persons will not relax, be quiet, stop doing, and wait in openness with and to unseen Grace?
* * *
Yes, there is another way to live than the always-hurried, insecure, distracted manner in which we have been educated is normal. This is not a movement back to earlier times, as some would want us to think ~ as though regression is the only path to contented simplicity. Now, we speak of going where we have not been, a movement from where we are, for we are where we are as a movement toward a healthier way of living together in our now-very-complex world. We cannot just un-do our culture as is, but we ourselves can change to adapt both it and ourselves to a more sane, healthier, compassionate way of being together.
* * *
To walk this way, requires a dedication to nurturing a sane alternative, and one which will deepen our connection to others, to ourselves, to the natural environment, and to Life. For those who follow this way, the open secret of the contented fisherman, in our story above, is the joyful realization. Life, then, becomes the Teacher of Itself and Its wisdom. Life shows us how to be lived by Life, in reverence and gratitude.
Grace and Peace to All
Lotus of the Heart is an interspiritual offering of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, who lives in Florida USA. Feel free to submit a query to Lotus of the Heart...
*Move cursor over pictures for creator of photo and title.