I almost couldn’t bring myself to write the title of today’s post due to a deeply engrained aversion to the term “positive” when applied as an adjective to describe one’s outlook. But despite my malformed and utterly adolescent misgivings I am finding more and more that keeping a positive outlook is key not just to succeed but to survival. Negativity, worry and anxiety do nothing to prepare our fortify you against the cruelty of life. Instead they weaken you and conspire to suck the joy or if your life. I have watch my mind when it has been stuck in the grasp of negativity and it’s not pretty. I become a man, miserly and cruel little man. So, I give thanks today for the hard lessons life had taught and for all of the teachers and friends who have helped prepare my heart to receive them. Buddham Dhammam Sanghan namasami.
329. For the mindful one, there is always good;
For the mindful one, happiness increases;
For the mindful one, things go better,
Yet he is not freed from enemies.
But he who both day and night
Takes delight in harmlessness,
Sharing love with all that lives -
He finds enmity with none.
Samyutta Nikaya I.208
Yesterday there were so many opportunities to react unskillfully as a result of the unpleasantness that I continue to experience in my feelings with my wife. Although I was unable to do much more than stifle my reactivity and simply screw down my trap when the opportunity to meditate came I took it and used the time to reflect on the fact that my wife wanted happiness just as much as I do. In addition to this reflection I also liked to cultivate forgiveness for us both until I felt that I could open my heart just enough to send her metta.
Once I finished my formal meditation I had the impulse to give her a foot rub despite the fact that I knew she could very well suspect I had ulterior motives. Nonetheless, inspired by the thought that we both want to be happy and don’t want suffering I decided to go ahead and do it. Yes, I was met with suspicion and even some words of reproach because this was so our of character (the first being that it shouldn’t be) but I endured it without making much of it. And, although nothing seems to have changed with her behavior I feel so much the better for it today.
327. Just as water cools both good and bad,
And washes away all impurity and dust,
In the same way you should develop thoughts of love
To friend and foe alike,
And having reached perfection in love,
You will attain enlightenment.
Jataka Nidanakatha 168-169
Perhaps it’s the normal ebb and flow of life or maybe something more i afoot but I am continually finding myself in conflict with my spouse. More often than not, this manifests as her voicing her displeasure with most everything I do (a common pattern I hear in marriages) so there’s nothing particularly unique or extraordinary about it. Still, I find it completely knocks me off balance and, unless I redress the situation internally by means of meditation or quiet reflection, it can have a horrifying impact on my mood and behavior for the rest of the day.
As I said, I’m not completely sure of the reason(s) for the increase in conflict although I do know my tolerance for it has substantially lessened of late and I am noticing that I more quickly incline towards annoyance and irritation both at home and at work. During an argument this morning with my wife wherein I suggested that she get up earlier with me on days when we have a dozen things too do before the kids can be shuttled off to their various activities she took issue with my needing to meditate as part of my preparation for the day ahead. Normally I meditate before anyone is awake precisely to avoid this kind of attack but I stod my ground and stated that meditating helps me to avoid being reactive in situations just such as the one we found ourselves in.
And yet, I had always found it impossible to reconcile the cool, calm collectedness of mind I presumed was necessary to make mediation possible with the heat and chaos created by familial discord. So, as I articulated the fact that meditation is what helps me, helps allof us to remain kind and clear during hardship I realized that I had a duty to cultivate a loving and forgiving heart especially in those times when hatred and discord prevail. Granted, I will need to wait for the right opportunity to begin meditating on forgiveness or anatta or whatever seems to be the best way to affront the situation but I don’t and cannot just wait for the waves to calm before meditating.
This morning would have been no different than any other except for the way I reacted to my wife’s litany of complaints and criticisms about the way I handled the morning routine for my son. Regardless of whether I did right, wrong or in between my own defilements found plenty to feed on and engorged themselves.
Suffice it to say that I left the house quietly seething with animosity towards my wife and am yet ambivalent about it. I seem to want to remain angry and estranged from her and continue to silently change her words of reproach and disdain until I half believe I am a bad and unloving father. As I said, though, my worth as a father is another (though important) issue my job now is to bring compassion and wisdom to the situation so that I can continue to chip away at this mountain of suffering.
323. Both now and in the past
It has always been thus, O Atula!
They blame those who are silent,
They blame those who speak much,
And they blame those who speak in moderation.
There is no one who is not blamed.
There never was,
There never will be,
Nor is there now
A person who is wholly blamed or praised.
A crazy morning that involved a 7am doctor’s appointment for the kids in the upper East Side and then down through Manhattan into Brooklyn to drop them of art their respective schools. Harrowing? Slightly. And yet I find myself feeling almost period of myself for being able to pull it off without any breakdowns or catastrophes. At the same time that I am feeling good about myself, however, I am also aware of this dirty, little feeling that I shouldn’t be paying myself at all for such a necessary and routine part of existence. And it occurs to: with so clear a choice between a helpful, kind fabrication and one that will lead only to further criticism and resentment, which is the wise choice?
320. The Tathagata lives free, detached and released from the body, feelings, perception, mental constructs, consciousness, rebirth, decay, death and the passions. Just as a blue, red or white lotus, born in water, grown up in water, on reaching the surface rests there untouched by water, even so the Tathagata, being free, detached and released from these things, lives with a mind whose barriers are broken down.
Anguttara Nikaya V.151
318. There are these five limbs of striving. What five? One has faith in the enlightenment of the Buddha. One has health and well-being, a good digestion, not over-hot or over-cool, but even and suitable for striving. One is not deceitful or dishonest, but reveals oneself to the Teacher or one’s followers in the holy life as one really is. One lives striving hard to give up evil things and to develop the good, staunch and strong in effort, not shirking the burden of Dhamma. One has wisdom into the way of the rise and fall of things with noble perception into the complete overcoming of suffering.
Anguttara Nikaya III.64
- Abyapajjo homi
- Anigho homi
- Daily Practice
- Formal Meditation
- Meditation Word
- Practice at Work
- Restlessness and Remorse
- Sammā Vācā
- Sensual Desire