There can come about a stooping physically and stooping mentally/emotionally and really the two go hand in hand. We are after all, all-of-a-piece, psycho-physical beings. To some extent everybody has their stoopingly moments. Times when life gets a bit too much and we curl up, contract and withdraw into ourselves. Hopefully, and I’d say inevitably, contracting ourselves is sooner or later replaced with expansion, of regaining our full height and width and inner resilience. Hah! The WordWeb dictionary defines resilience thus: The physical property of a material that can return to its original shape or position after deformation that does not exceed its elastic limit. And also: An occurrence of rebounding or springing back. How very resilient we are when considering, for example, the way seriously damaged youngsters (babies even) live on into adulthood. Yes, and at any age a life event can have us peering out from behind frightened eyes, tensed right through to the toes. Yes, sometimes we are stretched past our elastic limits and regaining our shape, so to speak, may not be possible. But not impossible.
These two ponies are not stooping behind the wall, they are just short! I loved their expressions, they are 100% HERE. The black pony stood on tiptoe to reach through the wire and over the wall to see if there was anything I had of interest. Hungry? You can’t help but love ’em and small ponies seem to have an extra dollop of presence which, if you’re dealing with them, can be a problem. But this post isn’t about small ponies it’s about Buddhist practice and an instruction which is too often picked up and run with when it is wisest to question what the teaching actually is. The instruction, almost a mantra for some, is ‘get self out-of-the-way’. In practice I understand that as grasping ones will and turning down the volume of the me, me, me aspect of oneself. Parents have to teach their children how to do that without crushing their life and vitality into the ground and we have to do that for ourselves. As adults, mature adults, turning down the volume on one’s personal wants, needs and desires (and hurts) is to live in society in reasonable harmony while at the same time being as kind as a kind and loving parent.
The problem or difficulty comes when the teaching, get self out of the way is mistakenly heard as get rid of self, deny oneself in a harsh and uncompromising way. As with children and small ponies so too with us fallible adults we can lose it. When this happens our individual self-nature appears infinite, and it’s obvious we are a problem to ourselves let alone for others! The fact is we are unified body/minds which left alone (read that as stop and sit still) will move from needy and contracted to expanded, curious, generous. Kind. (My self teaching/reminder is the right thing does itself, given half a chance.)
The thing is even the needy and hurt who stoop behind frightened eyes (and with historic good reason), are still Buddha. Here is the last paragraph from a post titled A World of Difference by Rev. Alicia. My post was inspired by hers.
It is hard to let go of blame, but I see more and more that it doesn’t help things. And I’m not denying that we sometimes have to deal with circumstances that are a cause for deep concern. Recognising and accepting our own fear and distress is a necessary step in becoming still. Allowing skillful action to be called forth from us, it is more likely that we will do what is of most benefit to all beings, and that, of course, includes ourselves.
Let there be generous applications of compassion and acceptance for that which we call the self.