It was a warm and moonlit night. As the air cooled and the light faded from the mountaintops, my boyfriend and I decided to go for a swim. He put me on his back and began to swim laps through the warm water. I listened to the sounds of the evening, and allowed my body to melt.
Faster he swam, pulling me behind him, creating currents in the formerly still water. The currents began to pull at my legs; I could feel my limp muscles creating resistance as he turned one way or another. And so I began to shift slightly with his movements. A small movement here, another one there, and again I began to slide easily, effortlessly, through the water. And I realized that non-effort does not mean no effort.
Sages counsel us to be where we are, to accept the moment we are in, to practice non-resistance. But sometimes doing nothing–allowing your body to go limp while the rivers of life carry you–creates its own unique resistance. To truly accept the moment, we must play our part. That part is always gentle, subtle and completely aligned with what is happening around us. It is a kind of non-doing, because it arises so easily and spontaneously. It is effortless action.
Awareness of the moment means to accept it as it is and the part that you play in it. Sometimes the appropriate action is to float; sometimes it is to swim. Find the effortless action, and then allow the river to carry you.
Wishing you effortlessness,
These pages are, as Emily Dickinson once said, my “letters to the world.” But although Emily felt that her letters were to a world that “never wrote to me,” I feel instead that the world is constantly writing to me, with every flower that blooms, every breeze that touches my face, every moonrise and sunset. With so many letters written across each moment, I want only to write back. To answer in some way the messages of Love that surround me.
Do I always see the world this way? Of course not. My true self, or buddha-nature (“buddha” means “awakened one”), is often sleeping and forgetful. I am often caught up in fear or desire, asleep to the beauty and abundance that surround me. But each day, I try to remember. Each day, I strive to wake up, even if only for a moment.
There is an old saying about enlightenment. Reaching enlightenment is like throwing a ball into the air, over and over again. It goes up; it comes down. But one day, when you toss the ball into the air, it stays there. The secret is only this: keep tossing. Each moment you wake up is a moment transformed.
Wishing you wakefulness,
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Tao Te Ching
(translated by Stephen Mitchell)
Simplicity. Patience. Compassion. These are the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and others. These are the keys to finding peace on a windy day. Yet in the whirlwind of our lives, we often neglect our treasures and then wonder why peace feels so elusive.
We practice so many things throughout our days. We practice working hard; we practice mastering new skills; we practice the roles of friend, mother, worker, lover. How often do we practice the ways of peace?
Peacefulness is a skill. One who does not practice patience cannot expect to find it during difficult times. One who does not practice compassion cannot expect to feel unconditionally loved. One who does not practice simplicity cannot easily enjoy the pleasures found in quiet times and places.
We protect the things we value. We nurture the qualities we choose to focus on. If you want to create peace in your life and in the world, then give your attention to the practice of peace. Nurture the parts of yourself that are best and brightest. Then when you face challenges you will learn from them and grow stronger rather than weaker.
We live in a world of complications, but we can find in ourselves a place of refuge. Be still. Be silent. Listen to the voices of the moment, and the quiet voice within your heart. Visit the spaces that fill you with peace, savor their sights and sounds. Listen to the music that soothes you. Open to the joys that bring you home to yourself. Then carry that feeling into the world so it may bless others.
Wishing you simplicity, patience and compassion,