As I continue to walk around and get to know ThaiLife Homestay I cannot believe, well I can knowing the universe and how it works, how it resembles everything my mind has conjured up over the last few years as “the resting place – Bliss of Being” the wellness centre I have been dreaming of opening one day. It is all right here right in front of me almost identical to how my mind visualized it. My journey has included staying at places that offer retreat for which I have participated, not only to be a participant but to find out how it all came together, to find out where the dream started, how it was developed, to gather ideas, to see what works and what doesn’t work – research.
Walking home one evening from from a 2 hours meditation session, 1 hour of walking and 1 hour of sitting it hits me how the universe put it all together so that I would end up at this very place at this exact time. This was not one of my original planned retreats, it was one that came to me while on my journey. It just showed up. The interesting thing is I am the only one participating in the retreat, its me and the teacher, just the two of us. I have her undivided attention, I can ask as many questions as I want, we have customized the retreat to fit the participant, me. We spend about 8 hours a day together with her teaching me the buddhist way with Dhamma talks, meditation, and discussion. She has shared her knowledge, her experiences, her masters, her expertise and her heart. The pure joy of doing what she does because she loves what she does, it shines through her heart at each and every session. She has shared some dhamma talks by a master Ajahan Braham. He is a wonderful speaker, funny, intelligent, kind and a beautiful story-teller. I, in turn, share him with you. One of the stories he told has forever changed the landscape of my mind. As human beings we always hear the negative, we always focus on the one or two things we did wrong rather than the 50 or 60 we did right. He tells a beautiful story of himself as a young monk building a wall out of bricks. He worked and worked day and night to get every brick straight, which apparently is no easy task. He spent many hours working on the wall. When he was finished he stood back and looked at his wall and to his horror he noticed two bricks out of the 1,000 in the wall that were not straight and that was all he could see. He asked his master if he could blow up the wall and start again. All he could see was the two crooked bricks. It drove him crazy. He volunteered to show people around the monastery just so he could avoid walking by the wall because he thought his mistakes were on display for everyone to see. One day a visitor came and stood in front of the wall, Ajahan came upon this man who said this is a beautiful wall. Ajahan made a comment about the two crooked bricks and the man replied saying yes but if you look at the 998 that are perfectly straight you can see the beauty in the wall. Forever this changed his perspective.
Today, I had the opportunity to go to a temple with my teacher and had some time to wander around the monastery on my own while some teachings in Thai unfolded. On the property a beautiful temple completely encased in gold, the inside was spectacular with shimmering gold statues of the buddha and his disciples, jewelled walls, the staircase was made out of shimmering mirrored square tiles all the way up, as I looked up the landscape of the building went straight up to a beautiful peak with figurines and statutes adorning the walls all the way to the top, beauty all around. I was stunned into silence. As I looked up at the very top was the peaked roof I noticed stone carvings of beautiful lotus flowers one after the other and right in the middle was a dark stain covering two of those beautiful flowers and it drew my attention to it right away. Immediately I thought what a shame those flowers are stained it takes away from the beauty, then I immediately thought of the story of the wall and instantly my perception changed and all I could see was the beauty of all the other flowers. I could see that this story would be something that I would come back to time and time again.
The universe seemed to know what I need at just the right time with just the right person. She is a kind, gentle soul and she sees right through me. The first things she noticed was that I needed more stillness in my life, my petal of stillness was wilting my beautiful flower. She also noticed that I needed to stop being such a control freak and just relax and have fun. Put joy into your meditations, just let it happen, stop trying to control everything. It’s laugh out loud moment for those who know me. Although looking back I realize that I have come a long way but sometimes this part of my personality just does not want to let go. I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” and believe me I have let a lot go but I still have a long way to go, it creeps up before I even realize it I am doing it again. Trying to control my mind in meditation, trying desperately to get to the bliss, the happiness, trying to force my mind to focus on one thing and one thing only, fighting with it to obey my commands, struggling with the one thing that is supposed to bring me peace of mind. I have come to the right place at the right time and I am in deep gratitude for the universe. As I journey along I continue to wipe the windows that sometimes seems to have fogged up in my tiny house realizing that each day is a new day with a different perspective with a little bit more visibility.
After spending another two days with my teacher the windows of the journey of life are becoming clearer and clearer. One of the things I have noticed in my life is how I learn, understand and practice things without a solid foundation of a system, a doctrine, a bible, deity to worship and yet I have come to same understanding that so many of the teachings teach. How? Why? Many times I find myself believing something wholeheartedly only find it confirmed by reading a book, attending a seminar or finding a teacher that shares their knowledge with me.
Whether it is the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Christian, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dwyer, Joe Dispenza, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh or Gabor Mate, just to name a few, they all lead us home! The teachings all come back to the same thing, the mind.
Each time I step into a different teaching I glean some resemblance to the way I have changed my life over the years and they all resonate on some level because they all come back to the same basic principles.
We are human and we suffer, we are all in the prison of our own minds and the only way out is in; it is in the stillness of our mind that we find the key to open the door and release ourselves from the prison of suffering. We have to step out of our conditioning, the very conditioning where we have grown to believe that the key to happiness is in material possessions – the house, the car, the career, the love of our life – societies expectation of success. You will never find the key in any of it because it is inside your mind and in order to retrieve it you must still the mind.
Human life is meant to revolve around the very laws of nature. The Law of Attraction, the Law of Impermanence, the Law of Connectivity, the Law of Giving and the Law of Least Effort, to name a few.
Let’s look at the Law of Karma, simply understood we believe that what goes around come around. When you are able to still the mind and see the world as the vibrations that it actually is you get the incredible opportunity to see this law in action. There have been many times in my life where people have done me wrong, always something inside me said let it be, trust in the law of Karma. I was fortune it enough to have the guidance of the universe to let it go and let karma deal with the avenger while I walked away. This was never easy, I always wanted to say my piece, to protect anyone left in its wake and I struggled and struggled and struggled. I have learned over the years that it takes a lot of emotional maturity to walk away from someone or something that has hurt you. Our automatic reaction is to effect ill will on them through thoughts, through actions, through behaviour; this is NOT the way to achieving good karma. If you follow your thoughts of revenge you may never be granted to opportunity to see that the universe in action. All we have to do is take care of ourselves by removing yourself from the situation, the person, the job, whatever it is and find compassion, wish them well and move on. The rest will be taken care of.
The simple fact that if you are a good person, do the right things, make the right decisions, live within your own integrity, fill our hearts with love and compassion, walk away from materialism, expectations and judgements it is possible to live a life filled with equanimity and peace.
In the Buddhist teachings they talk about the 8 fold path which is simply a way of being that culminates in awakening. It’s so simple; Right view (in harmony with the way things are right now), Right thought (thoughts consistent with the right view, freedom from all kinds of toxic thinking), Right Speech (kind with intent), Right Action (do not harm self or others), Right Livelihood (does not cause harm to self or others), Right Effort (reduction of unskillful thoughts/emotions and the development of skillful thoughts/emotions). It is all right here, the path to find the key to get out of prison. One step at a time.
The aim in development of these factors is to find balance in proportion to the fingers on your hand.
wisdom/stillness/consciousness/effort/belief = BALANCE
Let go of the past and its hold on you and choose instead to live in the present moment.
Everyone asks how do you let it go? Easy. You put it down. What if just for a moment you put it down, you set it down just for a few minutes and allow your mind to go to compassion for yourself, for someone else. Sit in the moment allowing your mind some stillness – creating a space. Pick it right back up and feel the heaviness, the burden you carry hauling it around with you. Put it down, pick it up. In time, it is not hard to see that this burden you choose to carry is a choice. Put it down and let it go.
When you are ready toss it away. Write it on a stone and throw it into the ocean, the river, the forest, let it go. Burn it. Tear it. Meditate. Release it.
Focus on the present moment, that is all there is anyways, this moment. The past is the past, you can’t change it. The future is uncertain, none of us knows what is going to happen. Even with all the careful planning our future is unknown. All we have is right now!
~ Thich Nhat Hanh. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
~ Buddha. “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”