using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 64 I T IS TEMPTING to ask ourselves if we are making “progress” on the spiritual path. But to look for progress is a set-up—a guarantee that we won’t measure up to some arbi- trary goal we’ve established. Traditional teachings tell us that one sign of progress in meditation practice is that our kleshas diminish. Kleshas are the strong conflicting emotions that spin off and heighten when we get caught by aver- sion and attraction. Though the teachings point us in the direction of diminishing our klesha activity, calling ourselves “bad” because we have strong conflicting emotions is not helpful. That just causes negativ- ity and suffering to escalate. What helps is to train again and again in not acting out our kleshas with speech and actions, and also in not repressing them or getting caught in guilt. The traditional instruc- tion is to find the middle way between the extreme views of indulging—going right ahead and telling people off verbally or mentally—and repressing: biting your tongue and calling yourself a bad person. Now, to find what the middle way means is a challenging path. That is hard to know how to do. We routinely think we have to go to one extreme or the other, either acting out or repressing. We are unaware of that middle ground between the two. But the open space of the middle ground is where wisdom lies, where compassion lies, and where lots of discoveries are to be made. One discovery we make there is that progress isn’t what we think it is. We are talking about a gradual awaken- ing, a gradual learning process. By looking deeply and compassionately at how we are affecting ourselves and others with our speech and actions, very slowly we can acknowledge what is happening to us. We begin to see when, for example, we are starting to harden our views and spin a storyline about a situation. We begin to be able to acknowledge when we are blaming people, or when we are afraid and pull- ing back, or when we are completely tense, or when we can’t soften, or when we can’t refrain from saying something harsh. We begin to acknowledge where we are. This ability comes from meditation practice. The ability to notice where we are and what we do comes from practice. I should point out that what we’re talk- ing about is not judgmental acknowledging, but compassionate acknowledging. This compassionate aspect of acknowledging is also cultivated by meditation. In medita- tion we sit quietly with ourselves and we acknowledge whatever comes up with an unbiased attitude—we label it “thinking” and go back to the outbreath. We train in not labeling our thoughts “bad” or “good,” but in simply seeing them. Anyone who has meditated knows that this journey from judging ourselves or others to seeing what is, without bias, is a gradual one. So one sign of progress is that we can begin to acknowledge what is happen- ing. We can’t do it every time, but at some point we realize we are acknowledging more, and that our acknowledgment is compassionate—not judgmental, paren- tal or authoritarian. We begin to touch in with unconditional friendliness, which we call maitri—an unconditional open- ness toward whatever might arise. Again when you were just a beginner like me?” “How did you become so wise, kind, open, generous, blah blah blah?” And you start to think, “Well, I must have accomplished something. Yes, I am wiser, kinder, more open, more generous, more blah blah blah.” You may try to fulfill people’s expectations because you actually want to help them. But you also want to avoid embarrassment. The interesting thing is that people actu- ally see right through one another, so really we could relax about the whole thing. It’s an open secret. Or as Leonard Cohen wrote, “Everybody knows.” Everybody really does know their own and others’ little secrets. We know, that is, if we admit to ourselves what we see, what we really know. That percep- tion sees what is truly genuine. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to relax with that in ourselves. We have a lot of resis- tance to simply being ourselves, without pretense or adornment, with all our warts and wrinkles. It is quite uncomfortable. So often we put on a little show for ourselves and others, thinking that’s what is required. We try to give the people what they want. We try to give ourselves what we think we want. It’s actually very sad, and in the long run it doesn’t help ourselves or others. But in the short run, it’s a pretty good con. But while everybody may know, that’s not a license for telling other people what’s wrong with them or what’s good for them. To do that, you’d have to really know. You’d have to be able to see others not just as schmucks or charlatans, dev- ils or angels, but also as the immaculately genuine human beings they are. That has to start in one’s own practice. Sitting with ourselves without expectation, viewing practice as practice, as life’s work rather than a race to the finish line. In that way, we leave space so that buddha mind, gen- uine mind, can shine through at the most unexpected moments. Genuineness is actually that simple. But I have to confess that I fall short most of the time, failure that I am. A little voice pops up: Give it up. Aban- don any hope of fruition. I yield to the little voice. ♦ Signs of Spiritual Progress The concept of success on the spiritual path is pretty suspect. After all, isn’t it a journey without goal? But there are some ways, says PEMA CHÖDRÖN, we can tell if our practice is working.