“To be mindful means to have metta towards the fear in your mind, or the anger, or the jealousy. Metta means not creating problems around existing conditions, allowing them to fade away, to cease. For example, when fear comes up in your mind, you can have metta for the fear — meaning that you don’t build up aversion to it, you can just accept its presence and allow it to cease. You can also minimize the fear by recognizing that it is the same kind of fear that everyone has, that animals have. It’s not my fear, it’s not a person’s, it’s an impersonal fear.” ~from Mindfulness: The Path to Deathlessness: The Meditation Teaching of Venerable Ajahn Sumedho. (via Dhamma Footsteps)
The last bit certainly mimics my own experiences with fear, depression, and anxiety. I picture them as sort of a fog that descends, looking for a little niche in which to insert itself.
What it actually finds to attach itself to is almost irrelevant.
In this excerpt from Myra Scovel’s autobiography, The Chinese Ginger Jars ©1962, Brother Li has come to visit her husband as he recuperates from a gunshot wound inflicted by a drunken Japanese soldier during the war years:
Fred was amused, but he was looking very tired.
“One would think that you never had a serious moment,” I said, laughing. “Let’s go downstairs and have a cup of coffee. It’s time for Fred to have a nap.”
“Brother Li, you’ve made me feel like a new man,” said Fred. “Happiness is good medicine.”
“Happiness is my mission in life,” Brother Li replied as he rose to go.
“Happiness is my mission in life.” I thought of the words as he pedaled out of the front gate and I remembered the day Brother Li showed me the pair of shoes he was making for an old priest who was having trouble with his feet. He had explained his contrivings to make the shoes comfortable.
“You are wasting your time making shoes,” I said to him. “You would make a wonderful priest. Why didn’t you go on and study to become one?”
He had looked at me as if I were a child. “You do not understand,” he said. “I make shoes for God.”
“Most people feel cozy enough in samsara. They do not really have the genuine aspiration to go beyond samsara; they just want samsara to be a little bit better. It is quite interesting that “samsara” became the name of a perfume. And it is like that. It seduces us into thinking that it is okay: samsara is not so bad; it smells nice! The underlying motivation to go beyond samsara is very rare, even for people who go to Dharma centers. There are many people who learn to meditate and so forth, but with the underlying motive that they hope to make themselves feel better. And if it ends up making them feel worse, instead of realizing that this may be a good sign, they think there is something wrong with Dharma. We are always looking to make ourselves comfortable in the prison house. We might think that if we get the cell wall painted a pretty shade of pale green, and put in a few pictures, it won’t be a prison any more.” ~Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
“I ask you though, Harold, is it enough?” ~Maude
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
David Wilkie suggests replacing the word “love” with your own name. Read it again; how does it sound?