Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wind and Rain are Just Another Kind of Good Weather: On the Four Practices

Like the last tenet I examined, this new one sent me looking for commentary before I could get my head wrapped around it:
Four practices are the best of methods.
According to one source I consulted:
"The four practices are generating goodness, clearing away negativity, filling obsessions with awareness, and nourishing wakefulness in your life."
I can get with that, but really I need more. So of course I turned to Tricyle. According to Judy Lief, the four practices are accumulating merit, putting away evil deeds, welcoming your neurotic attacks as wake up calls, and maintaining self-awareness. My interpretation is, "keep doing good; stop doing bad; don't get so stuck in your head about the good or bad; and be aware of where your head is."

After I read all the things and thought about it for a while, I found myself remembering a movie I watched a long while back - Casanova. It's very much a typical romantic comedy but in a historical setting with real-ish characters. I don't actually recommend it, but there is a quote from that movie that's stuck with me all these years later:
"Love, love is something else. It's the weather being good every day because wind and rain is just another kind of good weather. That's love."
Without rain, no flowers or food or babbling brooks or rainbows. Without the neurotic moments, there's nothing to push me to deepen my practice and to work on my self-awareness. It's odd that I was just having a conversation about this very point with a friend last night. I told him that the neurotic moment isn't about the issue running around his brain, so he should stop thinking about that thing and breathe and then look at something cute on the internet and breathe and then think about something concrete like the feeling of his feet against the ground or the sounds going on around him. After I'd calmed him down, he told me he appreciated what I'd said because, "You're blunt but not judgmental." One of the best compliments I've ever gotten, and it seems to me that - beyond reducing the bad and accumulating the good - that's the point of this tenet. No giving myself brownie points or demerits for my good deeds or bad, just awareness and intention. Not judgement, just awareness and intention.

Lief's advice for putting this tenet into practice is going to be a stretch for me, but considering that conversation I had last night, I know it's possible:
"When you do something good, try to remove any add-on of self-congratulation or righteousness.  When you make a mistake, try to remove any add-on of self-punishment or guilt. Instead, simply commit yourself to refraining from such actions in the future. Tune in to whatever arises as a way to reconnect with kindness and awareness." (Source)
So that's what I'll be doing this week. Until the next time, namaste and all that.

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