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Daily Connect: Lions & Tigers & Bears

When I'm asked why I practice Buddhism, my usual response includes something about a desire to lessen suffering and a way to lead an ethical life.  While this is true, a better and more honest answer is that my mind is often a source of such confusion and torment that I yearn for a way to control it. 

The Buddha experienced this too, and told his students, "I know not of any other single thing that brings such bliss as the mind that is tamed, controlled, guarded and restrained. Such a mind indeed brings great bliss”. The techniques he developed to harness his mind 2500 years ago liberated him from ignorance and confusion, and we can still use them to alleviate our own apprehensions.    

There are all sorts of actual dangers in the world to fear, but for most Americans it’s our imaginations that create the most threatening situations of all.  The American Institute for Stress notes that modern stress "tends to be more pervasive, persistent and insidious because it stems primarily from psychological than physical threats." Everywhere we go and everyone we know seems to be stressed out, worried, scared, or a combination of all three.  

Like the child who was asked, “What would you do if you were surrounded by five tigers?” and responded, “I’d stop pretending", freedom begins by recognizing there is a way to create a new relationship to our thoughts.  Rather than reacting to them as if they were tangible facts, we can look at them and notice their lack of substance and agency.  We can test them for veracity, (Is it true I’m going to ruin everything? Is it true there are no politicians who can be trusted?), and begin to tell a different, more accurate story.  Being mindful brings us right here, right now, where our fantasies and regrets do not exist. 

When I mentioned my nervousness to my friend and classmateKim, she said, “Ask yourself, Are lions chasing you?  Does someone have a gun to your head?  Are you on fire?"

Reality is the present moment.  Think about it.  Where else could it be?  

May troubled wanderers who have lost their way

Meet with fellow travelers,

And without any fear of thieves and tigers

May their going be easy without any fatigue.


Peace to Everyone Everywhere!

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love those tigers!


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