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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 1 0 32 you lose a treasured person, place, or thing. You say yes to your experience of the present moment, whatever it is. You no longer reject and armor your heart. not that you necessar- ily agree with the moment, or would wish it on anyone, or think it’s desirable, or wouldn’t try to rectify injustice, but you say yes because whatever life brings is just that, life as it is. and by saying yes, you let go deep down inside and can step forward with poise and balance and clarity to the next right thing. My six-month-old daughter has been wak- ing me up hourly this week to night-nurse. Sometimes I say no. Oh god, not again, what’s wrong with her? Will I ever get to sleep again? In those moments, mindfulness is a vague “good idea” somewhere in my sleep- deprived brain. But other nights this week when she cries I simply, without thought, say yes. Yes, darling, feast. Yes, I’ll be with you. Yes, I’m awake and that’s just how things are. I listen to the stillness of the night (rare in los angeles), feel her warm body and attend to her snuffling slurps, and sigh that yes, this is life. a deep peace sets in over me. By doing this practice of yes, by mindfully embracing each moment with a willingness to accept things as they are, with a willing- ness to be with life—inner and outer—exactly as it unfolds, you may be able to look down at your chest and realize that your heart is gigantic. It’s expansive, spacious, broken open, like a big, fat suitcase overflowing with warm, comfy, oh-so-familiar clothes. You open and open, you attend and attend, you say yes, again and again, and then over time, the mindfully opened heart is more and more just who you are. D Diana WinsTon is the director of mindfulness education at uCla’s mindful awareness research Center. she is on the teachers’ council at spirit rock meditation Center, and is the author (with susan smalley) of Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness, forthcoming in august from Da Capo Press. I reMeMBer aS a SMall cHIld the experience of my first pet. our family had trav- eled to Japan because my father’s study had taken us there. we rented an old, traditional wooden house in Tokyo where year round the wind whistled easily past windows and doors that never quite shut completely. I desperately wanted a pet dog, but my parents said that we would have to wait until we returned to the United States. one day, however, they said I could have another kind of pet. we went down to the local outdoor bazaar, and they bought a pet for me; it was a grasshopper in a small bamboo cage. It didn’t quite have the feel of the dog I had imagined. when we got home, my parents showed me how to care for it by feeding it fruits and veg- etables. It especially seemed to like cucumbers and watermelon; I was hooked. My mother was studying ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and one day, we took the grasshopper out of its cage and put it on the flower blossom of one of her trial arrange- ments. The grasshopper took to eating the blossom, and it seemed so content that after awhile, when we left the house, we simply left the grasshopper munching on the flower. Thereafter, every time we went out, we left the grasshopper on the flower arrangement. even though it could easily have escaped, it never even tried. when our little grasshopper died, I cried. In the Shin Buddhist path, the emphasis is on the Buddha’s compassion for all sentient beings. as human beings, our ability to con- vey compassion to other people and creatures comes to us through the cosmic compassion of amida Buddha. Yet, amida Buddha is not viewed as being separate from us; rather, amida Buddha, as boundless compassion, is our deepest, truest nature. for Shin Bud- dhists, nature and the universe are filled with boundless compassion. compassion means literally “to feel with.” our family’s sense of feeling attuned to the life of the grasshopper came to us from the creature itself and from our own hearts, but more accurately from the deepest reality of The Ocean of Boundless Compassion By Mark Unno (BOttOm)megumiunno,(tOp)sarahBiggarT Saying yes means attending to and surrendering to your experience, whatever it is. You say yes to your pride, your stupidity. It is a very inclusive practice. —Diana Winston BiLLLeyDen