Last week I wrote a blog titled: How do we know when we’re ready?In it, I talked about some of my resistance and fear that was triggered by becoming part of a Buddhist community or Sangha. After doing some processing around that issue, I found myself lighter, happier, and inspired.
The reason I write these blogs is twofold: Most importantly, it is my hope to contribute another source of support and encouragement for healing. I admit the other reason is less altruistic: It serves my own healing. Writing about my process helps me to clarify and let go. In addition, committing to the blog keeps me writing and that alone spurs my creativity which adds meaning and purpose to my life.
For me, I am inspired by teachers and everyday human beings who share their stories of personal growth and awareness. When I read what people like Pema Chödrön, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg write, I feel supported and encouraged to continue on my path towards peace, happiness, and well-being. The teachers that I have encountered through the Sangha are another great source of inspiration.
We are all teachers for one another, presenting in a variety of shapes and forms. Sometimes, a teacher is obvious. More often, it can be the small everyday experiences that ebb and flow as triggers for our emotional awareness that present the richest opportunities.
What really inspires me is healing. Each time I allow myself to be present with stress, pain, and suffering, I heal. I spend less time and energy with aversion and my neuroses or defense mechanisms. I am able to respond more frequently with equanimity. I am able to lighten up and not take myself and the world in which I reside, so seriously.
For example, I mentioned last week that I would get very nervous and anxious when speaking in front of the Sangha. As I processed through my fears and insecurities, I realized that my aversion was related more to being part of a group (and lack of self-worth) than the teachings – or Dhamma. How do I know I healed some aspect of myself? Since then, I have consistently felt lighter, happier, and more peaceful. In fact, the last time it was my turn to say something, I was calm and peaceful. I was able to be in the moment instead of obsessing over what I would or did say. What a lovely surprise! It was like actual empirical validation that I had healed another aspect of my being.
In Food For the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah (Wisdom Publications, © 2002 Abhayagiri Monastic Foundation), Ajahn Chah says:
The whole reason for studying the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, is to search for a way to transcend suffering and attain peace and happiness.
How simple is that: More happiness, less suffering. According to some teachers and monks, Buddhism is very pragmatic. I too appreciate a pragmatic approach. I face my insecurities, doubts, and fears because I know that is the only way to disempower them. I do not share my journey to wallow in darkness but to shed light. We cannot heal what remains hidden from view. And, if we are too caught up in judging mind by discounting or valuing one state of being or feeling over another, we simply add to our suffering.
I have a long way to go on this path. I am frequently unskillful and unwise. Yet, it is my hope that by sharing my path, I can foster loving kindness, encourage skillful sharing, and maybe even impart a small bit of wisdom from time to time. If I falter along the way, I apologize. My intention and hope is to inspire and never disempower or do harm.
In gratitude, I offer my stories, inspiration, and prayers. May you find peace. May you be free of suffering and the root cause of your suffering. May you know happiness, well-being, and loving kindness.
© 2012 Sallie Odenthal