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Lions Roar : November 2015
Turning Your Light Inward You could start with feeling your body. Let’s say you are sitting down. What’s that like? You can feel your body, its warmth, its animal thusness. When you notice what it’s like to be yourself, it’s satisfying just by itself. Being alive is its own delight. Being you is wonderful. The now we are in doesn’t seem to have a boundary around it. It’s not waiting for you to get thinner or younger or richer. You are now sitting in a chair, or you’re cycling in a gym, or wherever you read. You could be in a garden with hummingbirds ricocheting about, in a camp while hippos crash along the riverbank, you could be having tea while hearing gunfire from the next street over, you could be waiting for news in an ER. In all those cases, here you are, your life is happening now. You can taste the moment and hear it. You can touch the things around you and smell their scent, and this is always changing. What it’s like to be you is what is going on for you now. What it’s like to be you is the bit that you have to know for yourself, and it can’t be explained completely. So the first way to make friends with yourself is to rest in who you are. Being your own friend is being you. Worst Enemy Another way to look at it might be to ask: What’s it like not being friends with myself? What is in the way of being friends with myself? Well, everyone’s mind likes saying “but.” Thinking you’re doing it wrong, that the conditions of your life stop you from making friends with yourself—those thoughts might get in the way of noticing what it’s like to be you. You might disapprove of who you are, but disapproving is just another way of not being here. In this case, making friends with yourself could mean lowering your standards. You’re happy, and then have a thought and are unhappy. You are missing out on lots of things. Suddenly you think, “I’m lonely.” But that’s just an explanation, not the actual flavor of sharp, heart-in-the-mouth intensity. At that moment, is loneliness missing? Then is it even loneliness? If you have a friend, you are not looking to catch them out. You can show up for your own life the way you’d show up for a friend. If they are in pain or grieving or messed up today, you are still there for them. The Edges of Me The feeling of who I am and what it’s like to be me—does it go on and on? Well, being me has a wider extent than I might think. I notice this sitting in the garden. My garden has an informal quality. The plants seem to do a good job working out their relationships and I let them do that, the roses climbing trellises with the chardonnay vines, salvias intertwining with the lemon tree, grasses growing in between. There are also dense, low outcrops of juniper and fuchsia, which I thought of cutting back until I noticed that they are hotels for small birds, a place of refuge from becoming lunch for the red-tailed hawk who meditates on the grape trellis. I developed a connection with one of these small creatures. In spring it was a chick with a wing at an odd angle; perhaps it had fallen out of its nest. Surprisingly to me, this little bird grew and became an anonymous brown bird, expert at using the ground cover and the dark space under the deck to protect itself. When it survived, I wondered if it was lonely and how it would arrange its love life with the other birds who could fly. Then I hurt my back lifting large things, a product feature of the Y chromosome. I was in a lot of pain and stayed home, sitting on the deck, working, watching, doing the nothing that is called meditation. Being in pain didn’t diminish the feeling of being me, of trust. I didn’t think I shouldn’t be in pain, which was clearly not negotiable. Every now and then I’d stand up and fall down immediately. But in some sense I wasn’t in pain. There was just me and the morning rolling along. The brown bird was aware of me and, when I was quiet, would come out of its hotel and look at me. It would go ahead and eat the birdseed on the ground. Then one day I noticed it flew up to the deck and, later, to a fence. It was not a great flier, but still that was a cause for celebration. I could feel its wings in my own shoulders. I took it as a good sign for me, too. The matrix of everything is looking out through my eyes and looking back at me through the bird’s eyes. When I rest in this, everything supports me. So the feeling of being me extends out to include the anonymous brown bird. It extends also to the apricot tree that I say hello to when I step out the back door in the moonlight, to the dog, to the deer eating the windfall apples. The apricot tree seems to tell me things—Rustle, rustle, the moon, the moon, this lucky night is all there is! My Imaginary Lives So if I’m not spending all my time thinking about who I am and how other people are thinking about who I am, the trees and animals naturally come forward. In this condition we don’t get a signal to be anything other than what we already are. We are sitting in eternity, which has no past or future. It’s hard to see this if I’m assessing and evaluating myself. In that case I can only think about it, remembering that once running in a field as a child I was not separated from things. Thinking about being a SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 54