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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 15 spaciousness and openness? What would hap- pen to the normal consequences of this nar- rowing down, i.e. the distorted perceptions, the habitual interpretations, and value judg- ments of our experience and the inevitable suffering they bring along? Could we maybe, with all our attention and care, relax into a more circumspective form of awareness—similar to the observa- tion of natural phenomena in a mountain valley—whereby the compulsive narrowing down of our attention around objects can come to an end? Is it at that point, when those conditions are fully present, that alertness, calm, and stillness can reveal themselves? Or is there still something missing? And if there is something missing, what would it be and what qualities would it have? Can we allow such questions to be pres- ent within us and, most of all, can we really live them and continue to ponder them, rather than assuming that we know, because we know it all theoretically? Or maybe we just rely on the vague hope that directing our attention again and again onto a certain form of meditation will somehow someday bring the desired results. Even more fundamentally, can we admit that we don’t yet really know what’s what, but still open ourselves toward each new aris- ing moment, with all our vulnerability and insecurity in the face of the uncertainty of our own existence? Are we able to bear that? And where does this lead us, if this is not based merely on an uptight endurance but more on a patient and equanimous resting within the stillness, clarity, and presence of our own awareness? Material things, feel- ings, memories, thought activity, and sense impressions appear in a completely natural manner—and disappear in the same fashion, if we allow it to happen. FROM THE FOREST SANGHA NEWSLETTER, SPRING 2012 IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! When you catch yourself blaming others, says Ken McLeod, it’s a clear indication that you need to step back and look at your mind. BLAME IS REFRESHING, because it is so unambiguously a reaction. You don’t have to think or wonder about it. As soon as you see you are running the blame game, you know you are in reaction. When that hap- pens, stop right there and ask yourself, what’s happening? Clearly, things didn’t turn out the way you expected or wanted. You are frustrated and disappointed, and you can’t tolerate those feelings. You don’t want to feel this way. You have a story about what happened, but that story is immediately suspect because in it you are the hero. You use logic and rea- son, the opinions of others, support from friends or colleagues, to bolster your story. You are right! But remember, when it comes to blame, reason is a weapon you use when you do not want to acknowledge your anger. Or, depending on your predilections, you turn it around—you still have a story and you still have a privileged role, but this time, you are wrong. It’s all your fault. In Mind Training in Seven Points, the author Chekawa provides two instructions about blame: “Drive all blame into one,” and “Don’t put an ox’s load on a cow.” The first instruction says to lay all your problems, everything that is wrong in your life, at the doorstep of one pattern: wanting things to be different from what they are. Blame is a wonderful reminder here of how deeply you want the world to conform to your expectations. The second instruction says to meet what- ever arises. Don’t avoid it, internally or exter- nally. When things turn out differently, meet