2020-03-07: Non-Anxious Presence
11:47PM Jun 19, 2020
non anxious presence
So with this online recording offering from IMC, we heard initiating the first of our online offerings during this COVID 19th era. We didn't we cancel the day long we had scheduled today. And at this time, I would normally normally be giving a Dharma talk at the end of the day long. So, we had a short sitting and now we're having a Dharma talk, maybe some of the people who came to the day long to try it came this morning to try to participate. Maybe you've logged on and it would be great if we're sharing these few moments together. And for others who might have learned about this, the Probably this is going to be something we'll continue to do, it's most likely that we'll cancel ongoing programs at MC because they request of three health departments on the three local county health department's in our area here have requested that to be non essential meetings be canceled. So in our attempt to try to support the lessening of the transmission of this virus, we're also not having public programs here. But this gives us a wonderful opportunity to see what we can do to create and learn how to offer meaningful online programming. Whether it's live sittings and and talk so we can continue maybe tomorrow morning. It's Sunday morning. We'll try to do this as well and I'll be here and three quarter and maybe one or two others But and I will happily sit and offer a talk to the few people are here and from the many people who might be listening or watching online. And now over time, hopefully we can think of different ways of doing a new events here and things that are useful. I hope that that supportive during this Coronavirus era that I was of you who might not go and public much and stay at home, would find this supportive to have this ongoing contact and kind of live contact with IMC and the teachers here and the teachings that we do here. And hopefully it's a wonderful way of, of infusing your daily life, your home life even with the Dharma and with practice. And I'm also thinking maybe at some point, I'll start a regular early morning sitting and maybe you'll sit with me and for those of you who haven't really started a regular sitting yet Maybe that's your opportunity to sit together with a wider community of online folks. And, and we can kind of live the Dharma a little bit more that way. And, you know, I think that one of the principles of Dharma practice is Dharma practice is good wherever we do it. So if we do it alone, it's good. If we do it with others, it's good. If we do it with others through the online medium, it's good. It's whatever practice we do is good. Maybe there are better alternatives that we could do. Made comedic in person, perhaps perhaps. But there's a lot of worse options that people can do. And chances are that many people don't do them most enhancing things for themselves and most dharmakaya rich things for themselves when they spent a lot of time alone, and I've already heard of people who now stayed home from the year activities because of the virus, and they've watched back to back Netflix movies, you know, through the day. And now that that could be wonderful. But I certainly believe that, that opportunity to practice and to learn the teachings and to deepen was understanding and reflection on these topics is a profound way of living. And it's a way of infusing any life with profundity with nobility with value. And if we could do this during this era, when many people maybe are, are doing this practice that's called social distancing. And that maybe we can find a way that social distancing is also
the period of which we can enhance a deeper connection to others in a different way. We can open our hearts more we can become the kind of people who can be contribute to the society around us because of who we are and what we become. I'm very aware that at least now in this initial weeks of the corona virus, that there's a lot of fear. And oddly enough, I don't quite understand why. But oddly enough, it seems like the thing that stores are running out of the most is toilet paper. And either people are playing to blow their nose a lot, or I don't know what this toilet paper craze is for, but makes sense food and other things perhaps, but there's certainly a lot of fear and it's being expressed in many different ways. And, and what Dharma practice is about is learning how to be fearless and fearless. Not because we put ourselves in situations that are safe, but fearless because we know how to live in a fearless and wise, maybe cautious way. With the dangers that exists in our world. They are always going to be dangerous in human life. and dangerous in this world. And the idea of kind of finding a safe place and always having safety and being safe and requiring safety in order to be free is not a very dharmic life. And so here we have this golden opportunity to take a deep look at fear and a new way you're our fear your fear certainly has probably more contagious than the virus these days is the contagion of fear that spreads around how people talk and what the news are saying, and the way people are behaving and, and the alternative to fear is to be fearless. The alternative to fear is to be wise. And the alternative to passing on the contagion of fear is to pass on the contagion of tranquility and calm and assurance and stability. I recently was told of a a chaplain, whose does in the field chaplaincy for first responders, to firefighters to police officers and people who go to situations are often quite tragic. And where people are often, you know, dealing with the tragedy of death and natural disasters and fires and things that, you know, come out of the blue for many people and are shocking and upsetting. And chaplains go and offer spiritual care in that setting. And that chaplain was asked, you know, what's the essential ingredient of being a chaplain in those kinds of settings? And that and also the person who was in that? part of the question was, what's spiritual about your chaplaincy? And she replied, that what spiritual was offering a non anxious presence? And so this Dharma practice and meditation is a means to developing a non anxious presence. I find it meaningful that she chose the word anxiety anxious, because in my understanding, anxiety always involves imagination. It's always anxious but something which is not present, but we imagined will be present in the future. And so it certainly some of this imagined future possibilities of danger are real enough. But there's a high percentage of imaginary fears, which may never come to pass. And a high percentage of people's anxiety has a lot to do with the power and creativity of their imagination. And, and the tendency may be the habit of maybe fear driven habit that leads us to imagine frightening scenarios of what might happen. And again, an alternative to that is not to spend anxious imaginations about the future, but rather to reflect wisely carefully about what's possible. What are probable scenarios what's realistic, and to be prepared, but to realize that we can never be prepared totally, that life has dangers that are inherently in it. And then the question, really the Dharma question is how are we prepared to meet the inevitable dangers of sickness, old age and death, and all the different other things that come our way? unexpected lately? Right now it's the virus, it's spreading around the globe, and chances are it'll soon enough come to our neighborhoods. The and, you know, there's all you know, and here in California now we have looks like we're gonna have another drought and with that, we probably expect a whole other,
you know, epidemic maybe of fires that will affect our state and maybe some of these will be close to where we live and affect us directly. So are we ready for this is our Dharma practice about finding some kind of comfort in safe and comfortable place inside, that we feel kind of reassured in some way? Or does the Dharma practice provide us a place of wisdom and fearlessness inside of ease and peace inside, which is portable with which we can meet the dangers of the world, so that we can be a non anxious presence for others. So that we can be the chaplain we could be the one who offer spiritual care, not because it's explicit spiritual care, maybe no one thinks of it that way. But we are the ones who can support others, by the lack of our anxiety. And, and it's possible I think, to live a life with no anxiety whatsoever. It might not be possible to live a life with no fear, some fears, realistic, but certainly without anxiety, and certainly with a dramatic lessening of fear which and to be motivated. Even if we're Afraid to be motivated and have the ability to not collapse into it or let the fear be what motivates our decisions for how we're going to live our life. The decisions for the stories we tell or the ways in which we relate to other people. What if we know how to be afraid and we know how to be present for it, know how to recognize it clearly and understand it's there and not deny it, but are able to breathe through it or have a wider field of attention that holds it and gives us the freedom to come and behave and in based on other intentions, other motivations other purposes for ourselves. Maybe we, we Our intention is to not be motivated by anxiety, but that place inside of us is able to be fear fear less or not to having non anxious Presence. Maybe what we can tap into is our compassion for others or care for others. Perhaps we can tap into our place of mindful reflection and we give time over to thinking wisely about things. Maybe it's using wisdom to realize that there are different ways of learning about the news that the Daily News whatever channel way we get it is often not the best way to get news. If we want to live a wise and anxious free life. There are websites there are places where the news is given in much more careful ways or methodical ways or encyclopedic ways, like an encyclopedia, for example, like Wikipedia, they haven't. They have wonderful entries there and what's happening in the news right now. And is it is Wikipedia less accurate than what's in the newspapers. I can Kind of suspect that it's more carefully curated than the newspapers and, and less kind of has a particular political twist or something. And I certainly when I read the Wikipedia news, I feel like I'm getting the basic information in a very important and thorough way. And, and in an easier way than the news. And it doesn't give my stomach a kind of curl curling or anxiety or I get a whole different emotional feeling as I read it. And it's a while I think it's a wise way of learning what's going on in the world without the emotional impact that some of the Daily News has, especially if you're used to used to seeing it on, on kind of live on TV. So we are in this new era now. And one of the opportunities we have one of the possibilities is if we reflect on our Dharma purpose, the purpose that is related to how we're practicing The question then would become, given my interest in the Dharma, given my interest in developing a life that's based on mindfulness and wisdom is, how do I relate to this new era? How do I infuse the new situation, with mindfulness with wisdom, with compassion, with kindness, with a way to live in an anxious freeway or being anxious through presence when we go to the supermarket, and people are behaving differently there because of this virus, and you can tell that people may appear anxious and they're where everyone's wearing latex gloves to pull this food off the shelves.
And, and then people are social distancing themselves now that they say, you know, keep six feet away from people. So we don't breathe the same air that has been in their lungs. And so it's, you know, there's a sense of distance. If this happens. People are not out in public so much. We may not see so many people. But can we kind of turn this around and not see it as social distancing, but see it as a new creative situation for how to be the producers of human connection? That we're the doers of it. We're the ones who want to offer this. We don't waiting for people to connect to us. But we are practicing becomes an active force. Yes, there's distancing and but how can I relate to no wise way with the people around me? Today, there was someone who suggested that he or others go back to writing letters, thinking that if we get a letter in the mail, it kind of makes a special personal connection that's very different than getting an email and maybe we have more time now to write letters and to mail them. Someone else said that we could call people more now and make phone calls and connect that way. Perhaps there's ways of smiling more at strangers or sitting alone in a nicer way. Maybe people feel safer to say hello to strangers when we keep the six foot distance? And and what kind of conversations can we have with people that, that in the times when we have together, we don't take them for granted anymore, but we say that oh, this is a time to connect in a deeper way and see the person in a deeper way or show that we're interested in them or we appreciate them that that our relationships become more valuable. And so maybe the quantity of relationships or there's maybe go down for some people, people, some people who are working or been sent home, I know some some tech people now are working from home. And so they don't have the daily contact human onto you know, in person contact with colleagues. But what if the when the lesser contact, we have That we really make sure we're available for that present for it and not distracted from the very contact that presence we have with someone else, and to meet people with kindness, meet people with appreciation, or meet them with greater mindfulness and attention, or what does it means to be free? What is freedom? personal freedom, inner freedom, what is it like in relationship to another person when we're with someone else? And of course, we could always ask these questions. But to the degree to which we're troubled to do it, which gray feels challenged, or even to the degree to which you feel anxious about the new reality of this times with the, the, what's happening with the virus, to the degree to which that's difficult for us. I would propose to that same degree or maybe more, is to find some way inside to muster actively, intentionally, purposefully, the opposite to know Just allow ourselves to be the victim of circumstances and, and somehow give up or collapse or just take for granted. This is how it has to be now and what a drag. Then we're only consumers of our life, we're only then only as good as what we consume, what comes our way? But what if we're producers, what if we're the ones who step forward and, and not wait for something to come but we step into the world and with our practice with our attention with our goodness with our and, and, and find ways to live in a meeting meaningfully in this new era. So to be not the victims of this era, but to be the be the saviors of this era be the ones who stepped forward to make a difference and support everyone. Now in my neighborhood here and around where I am, and I think in most places at this point I don't know anybody Personally who has the virus or a sick? If it becomes more dramatic, and hopefully not much more dramatic in our society, then who are the helpers? Who are the people who are going to support the others? Who are there people who are going to bring food to those who are sick and Cat Cat home can't get out? There's many people who live alone. And who's going to support them and help them. And then we're waiting for public agencies to help them and, and, or to be expected others to do it because we're afraid to go out.
What does it mean to be a helper? What does it mean for our hearts? What happens to our hearts when we hunker down at home and let everyone just everyone else just manage on their own the best they can? What kind of heart does that make? What kind of inner life does that develop in us? Whatever happens to our inner life in our in our hearts, how does it develop? But if we actually think about other people and become those who are become a force for the goodness for the good in our society in this new era. So I see that every situation is an opportunity for something good every situation is a time for some way of enhancing the Dharma in our own hearts, and minds and bodies. And even more so now. So I hope it's my sincere hope that as we offer these online offerings and Dharma talks and sittings and all that, that maybe we can explore this topic or maybe we can, these these Dharma offerings here from IMC will support you certainly it's in your life, but also maybe support you to find a how to make this particular time something vital and meaningful and you look back at this time, and really appreciate that it was a turning point in your life and making your life And somehow going in a really good direction, direction of freedom, direction of compassion and care, the direction of non anxious presence that you can offer the whole world. So thank you. If you for those of you who've been watching and listening to this, I appreciate very much appreciate your interest and the motivation behind your interest that you find this valuable and interesting. And if you stay tuned to our MCs website, there's a what's new section, we'll keep things updated the best we can about how we're going to develop this. This means of online programs and teachings and, and look forward to having more contact and as we develop this way, and as we developed this online offering, we'll figure out some way so that it can be mutual and reciprocal so we take questions or maybe there's ways of having discussion groups maybe over zoom or something. So there can be some feeling of actively engaged in this process as well, not just simply listening and watching. So I hope that you're Well, I hope that your Dharma practice goes well and I hope that that we can share the Dharma together for a long time. Thank you.