Let the World Speak for Itself. {Pema Chödrön Book Club}

Via on Aug 16, 2012

 

Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

“We generally interpret the world so heavily in terms of good and bad, happy and sad, nice and not nice that the world doesn’t get a chance to speak for itself.

When we say, “Be a child of illusion,” we’re beginning to get at this fresh way of looking when we’re not caught in our hope and fear. We become mindful, awake and gentle with our hope and fear. We see them clearly with less bias, less judgment, less sense of a heavy trip. When this happens, the world will speak for itself.”

(Start Where You Are: “Let the World Speak for Itself.”)

I don’t like this chapter. I want to fight with it. I want to say, “Yeah, but…this really is bad. Or this really is awesome. I really am afraid. I really have hope.”

Sigh.

As I went to bed last night I had that unfinished nagging feeling that I had forgotten to finish something. I hate that. It was this. Kind of apropos, though. Let things be as they are. Let the world speak for itself.

“We begin to let opposites coexist, not trying to get rid of anything but training and opening our eyes, ears, nostrils, taste buds, hearts and minds wider and wider, nurturing the habit of opening to whatever is occurring, including our shutting down.”

I have to be honest, even though I know it to be true and beneficial, this is hard for me. I like symmetry. I like everything nice and neatly tied up and paired off. I don’t like letting things be. I like to fix them. I like to do. I like to interpret. I’m an editor. If something feels incongruous, I want to fix it. I’m the person who will straighten your picture if I notice it’s crooked and line up everything in a nice neat little row.

Life isn’t like that.

Enlightenment doesn’t come in a pretty little box. It’s making peace with and acknowledging the parts that are messy that teaches us the most. It’s looking at what is, with curiosity, instead of needing to immediately nail it down and define it.

In this idea of being a “child of illusion” post-meditation (which is to say, all the time) we let go of the need to nail things down and call them good or bad. We stop trying to fix everything and figure out whether we like it or not or whether it makes us happy or sad. I don’t want to do that. I’m a writer. I want to use my words and talk and write until I’m blue in the face and have figured everything out, checked everything off my list and put everything in it’s appropriate box.

But no. It’s time to let go of that. Instead, it’s time for a “fresh outlook, wide-open eyes and curiosity.”

Pema ends the chapter with a wonderful story about a Native American man named Ishi, who was the last of his tribe. One day he appeared on the streets in California, naked and alone. An anthropologist bailed him out of jail and introduced him to a bit of “civilized” San Francisco culture. Ishi took it all in, tried his best to do as he saw those around him doing and was filled with curiosity and wonder at all of it.

Later, when he spoke with the anthropologist about his first experience going on the train, he explained that for his whole life, he and the members of his tribe had though trains fire breathing demons that ate people.

Kroeber (the anthropologist) asked him how he had the courage to get on, thinking it was a demon that would swallow him up.

Ishi replied:

“Well, my life has taught me to be more curious than afraid.”

Ishi’s life had taught him how to be a child of illusion.

Maybe, just for today (and then for tomorrow, try again tomorrow), be more curious than afraid.

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Week One

Week Two

Week Three

 

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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6 Responses to “Let the World Speak for Itself. {Pema Chödrön Book Club}”

  1. Love this series. Thanks for doing this, Kate.

    Posted to spirituality and wellness facebook and homepages, plus Twitter and Pinterest.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn

    • Thanks Bob! Playing around with the Linkedin groups a little to see where it would be a good fit.

      • I think Linkedin could be great for this, especially if you sift experiment with a number of spiritual, Buddhist and self-development groups.

        I would also like to ask anyone reading this to make a point of commenting here and spreading the word among their friends, too. Let's get some conversation going.

        Bob

  2. I think this chapter is a tough one, its hard not want to tidy up things and put them in proverbial boxes. I envision being a child of illusion as me sitting in a snowglobe with the good, bad, happy, and sads swirling around. As they slow down and settle on the bottom I get lighter and brighter. This is a good practice for me when I get in control mode.

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