If you prefer to watch a video, here is an earlier and more rambling version of the blog. It's a talk given during one of the online sangha meetings.
Way back during the early Buddhist days of my spiritual journey, I was on a meditation retreat with Christopher Titmuss at Gaia House in the UK, the sister retreat center to the Insight Meditation Society in the US. One evening, Christopher was asked what he experienced when he was meditating. Christopher said, with his characteristic joyfulness, ‘Well, I got stung by a bee this morning, so I sat with my thumb hurting.’
It’s similar in our lives when things happen we don’t like, when we feel frustrated, hurt, or unhappy – whether that’s because of outer events, or our own illness, acute or chronic, or limits we run into due to aging. There are moments when we’re ok, and moments when we’re not ok, when there is pain and difficulty.
So where is the sweetness of Being in that?
These are two levels of being and experiencing. At the level we're usually aware of, there is the human condition, however that expresses in the moment, however frustrating, painful and difficult that may be. At the level of Being, there is an awareness that even as we’re fragile as human beings in a body, heart or mind that don’t always function as we’d like them to, that are prone to hurt and break down, even in the face of all that, we are sweetly alive.
All of this experience is held in Being, received in awareness. Being is not touched by the humanness of these states. It’s not even touched by the resistance to these states. It’s an openness to whatever is happening.
So we don’t need to be blissfully unaware of pain that’s in our body or heart. We’re human, so we will be aware of it, and we may even resist it. And yet there can be a sweet embrace of that, an openness. Maybe it won’t be sweet in the moment, maybe it will just be very factual. But even that factual receiving of it has a sweetness to it. It’s like a bowing to it, yes, here I am, I am hurting today. My body is hurting, my mind is racing, my heart feels broken.
All of that, and yet here we are, we’re still here. And that is sweet in itself. How can this be? It’s a mystery at the heart of our being.