A post by Reverend Mugo from back in February has kept coming to mind for me. It was about ‘Giving it up’ (Feb. 26th). I find that teachings often burrow themselves inside me somewhere and keep on working somehow at an almost unconscious level; and so it has been with this one.
And what I have realised is that I so often approach life expecting it to be so hard. Which is why the ‘looking up’ has always appealed – but it has still felt like it was a ‘hard’ effort to look up and not be dragged down by the seeming inevitable difficulty of life and the sense of loss foreseen with ‘letting things go’, ‘offering them up’ or even until now with ‘give it up’.
Because we do have such deep patterns of comfort in our life regardless of the costs (both to ourselves and others) that may be involved. These patterns often involve (for me at least) recurring cycles of denial, craving and dependency on people, things, activities; and the idea of giving them up seems so hard. But where is all this negative expectation coming from? and why do I listen to it? Not just with big life habits but with seemingly small things. Like, eating fewer of the things that are probably not good for me (even going on a diet); breaking some of my dependency on car travel; facing and challenging my aversion to computers and the internet; being more organised with our finances; being more tidy…
So, given that things still seem different with our lives I am trying to look at just ‘giving up’ some of these things – without expectation, without looking for how hard it is going to be, and without listening to the feeling that I am doomed to fail.
And what seems to happen, as has happened so often before, is that after all the commentary has gone from my mind, far from being hard there is actually a ‘lightness’ and ease involved with giving up these patterns (or at least trying to give them up). It is as though they have weighed me down just carrying all this stuff around with me, for so, so long. Then giving it up comes with a feeling of being lifted up and maybe it is the gratitude that is doing the lifting.
Then I read this quote from The Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines, at the front of this book and it seemed to re-enforce and immediately (and massively) expand what has been slowly revealing itself to me:
I should not like to have the bodhisattva think this kind of work hard to achieve and hard to plan out. If he did, there are beings beyond calculation, and he will not be able to benefit them. Let him on the contrary consider the work easy and pleasant, thinking they were all his mother and father and children, for this is the way to benefit all beings whose number is beyond calculation.
2 thoughts on “Easy And Pleasant Work”
I feel moved to just say ‘hooray’!
Thank you, Andrew, for this posting. It’s good to get a reminder that what’s hidden in plain sight offers Itself freely and doesn’t have to be dug out.
Many years ago, I had a working meditation assignment of smoothing out the pathway to the cemetery at Shasta Abbey so that Rev. Master Jiyu’s wheelchair could more easily navigate the path.
There was a rock sticking up in the path and I was determined remove it. The further I dug, the bigger the rock became. The other trainee I was working with suggested that we build up the path around the rock instead. That was too easy a solution for such an important job! I insisted and the other fellow left me to my own devices.
Needless to say, I eventually gave up and lifted the path instead. That was the beginning of my looking at my pattern of trying too hard. I’ve been grateful to the other fellow (and the supervising Monk) for giving me the opportunity to give up.
In gassho, Jim