Sunday, May 3, 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice: On Observing These Two

The next tenet was a bit of a head scratcher when I first read it:
Observe these two, even at the risk of your life.
I know better than to think this is some kind of action film catch phrase, but it definitely confused me. And the translation wasn't much better: "Keep these two, even if your life is at risk." It still sounds so ominous, don't you think? Their explanation helps soften it a smidge:
"Internal transformation s the organizing principle of your life. Let go of your commitment to it, and you lose your life. Mind training is the method you use to transform your life. Let it go, and you fall back into reactivity."
Still a little unfriendly, but not life-threatening.

This is one of those weeks when I really needed Judy Lief's insight, and she brought it to bear right away in her commentary on this teaching:
"The two primary vows or commitments of the Buddhist path are the refuge vow and the bodhisattva vow. More generally, the two primary commitments one makes on the spiritual path are to work on oneself and to help other beings. These two vows provide fundamental guidelines for how to approach your practice and your daily life."
That's when it clicked: this is the next evolution of all the mindfulness I've been practicing. It's like that old joke about Carnegie Hall. But now, it's not just paying attention: it's about what to do with the things I notice. In the mindfulness, I need to remember to practice loving kindness with others and with myself. And working on mindfulness and presence gives me the opportunity to take that pause and have my actions guided by these principles.

Lief's parting advice resonated as well:
"What would change if you took seriously the two principles of working on yourself and helping others as the measure of your actions? How committed are you to yourself or to others?"
So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

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