Notes on a Buddhist path

Perfect present

July 24, 2011 By | Leave a Comment

What a present today has been. Both a gift and full of nowness. Long, leisurely sleep. A full fledged yoga workout.  Centred and peaceful meditation. Wonderful deep phone conversations with far away friends. Eating delicious food to the point of satisfaction but not overindulging. All enjoyed without leaving my sweet apartment. Sheer bliss.

And then there was work. Besides my full-time employment I have a second job working out of my home. What I thought would be about two hours of toil turned into four. Anxiety began to creep into my presence as I ran into one then another and another thing that needed fixing or tweaking. My easy project was starting to gather momentum and was teetering on the edge of becoming irksome and messing with the groove of my day.

Just as my head was starting unscrew itself from my torso my friend Michaelene called. We talked for well on over an hour and a half about all the goings on in our lives. Our writing projects, our health, men and the mail, the heat index in New York and cheese with the aroma of a damp barn and the sweetness of a young goat’s winter coat. M and I have known each other so long we finish the other’s jokes and know where most of our respective skeletons are stashed. Everyone needs a friend like that.

When we finally finished our call my gentle ease of the day had returned. The work project wrapped up in short order after that and with it the generosity of the day slipped with warm gratitude into evening.

“Say Yes” by Shepard Fairey

My friend, Peter, wrote the other day in his blog about saying “yes” to everything. It is one of the exercises in a new book by his Zen teacher asking us to say yes to everyone and everything that arises. Yes has had a big impact on me. It has become a dear confidante and teacher for me these past few years. Yes is what brought me to Canada, it’s what reminded me again of my love of dance, my passion for words, my connection to soul and my meditation practice. It’s opened my heart to friends and encounters, supporting me in the mysterious sea of trust that fear and it’s companion, no, could never imagine.

With each yes we open a bit more because yes is not limited to only the pleasing, but the difficult as well. The difficult yes is often the greater teacher because the learning and the growth are in the stretching of ourselves and our comfort zone. No shuts us off from life. Yes propels us fully into our present condition without a net. Sometimes a no is necessary for safety, but more often than not we shroud ourselves in no to avoid change, discomfort or the unknown. Yes is life in all its colours, sounds, textures and smells, even that of a young goat’s winter coat.

Yes, it was a day of play and work, of fussing and fulfillment. As is often the case I open to so much more than myself when I sit down at the keyboard and write. Words are my biggest teachers and my humblest allies. As night approaches morning, I feel the contentment of yes washing over me and sleep calling me to its side.

Yes, it was a perfect day.

A Thousand Times Yes

by Yoko Ono

I said yes, I said yes, I said yes,
I prayed a thousand times yes.
And the no that was hanging over the buildings
Faded like the moon at dawn.

When I was young I thought I was facing
A very aware world ahead,
I didn’t know it was going to be
Beware of dogs instead.

I said no, I said no, I said no,
I said no a million times to no.
But the yes that was in its last breath
Still hovered in a room with a permanent flu.

When I was young I didn’t know
That one can only read life in braille,
I was still struggling to catch life on its tail.

I said why, I said why, I said why,
I asked why for the billionth time.
And my bone slowly lost its moist
Like a leftover coke bottle on the street.

Yes, this dry whiteness of a thing on the square,
That’s my bone.
It lets the wind pass over like the last tender fraud,
Makes a little noise like old campaign billboard.

I said yes, I said yes, I said yes,
I prayed a thousand times yes.
And the no that was hanging over faded.

How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness, by Jan Chozin Bays, MD, (2011) Boston: Shambhala

Image credit: Artsy – Shepard Fairey

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