Notes on a Buddhist path

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November 11, 2012 By | 4 Comments

A friend asked me once for a piece of advice I would offer someone entering the middle years of life. I told her, in so many words, to follow the mystery. The whispers at the end of a chance encounter, the pull towards something that scares us, listening for the deep call within one’s being to trust and go with what arises.

For me the mystery has led me to leave behind my old country, old friends, and old ways of being, moving from the knowns to dive more deeply into the unknowns of this life. Following the call to live more fully asks me to be more fully present. With that presence comes a deep commitment to my path in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, uncovering the nuances of each breath and finding the words to somehow convey the text of my journey on these pages.

With each precious moment comes the next inhale and the realization that we are one exhale closer to our final breath. Knowing with rooted awareness that we are but mere elements in these fragile bodies, impermanence is always sitting next to me, reminding me that attachments to this life are futile graspings, like trying to hold a puff of smoke in our hands. Seeing the illusion of self fall away, the path to Nibbana widens and the end of suffering is no longer a vision, but a temporal reality.

This is a place to gather my thoughts and ponderings. To ruminate about the here and now, to leave the shouting voices and the wild night behind, and listen closely for the new whispers.  I hope you’ll join me.

“The Journey” by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice ‑
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. 

It was already late                                                                                   
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do ‑
determined to save
the only life you could save.

“The Journey” by Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, copyright 1994, Atlantic Monthly Press

About the author

Upasika Piyadassi (Tess Wixted) was born in California and found her way home to Canada. She cultivates a life of monastic work, play and meditation practice at Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery in the quiet solitude of interior British Columbia.

 

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