20230109-Gil-Dharma of Challenges (1 of 5) Dharma as Refuge
10:12AM Jan 13, 2023
The following talk was given at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California, please visit our website at audio dharma.org.
So most of these warnings that it comes down to IMC for the last three years, technology's mostly worked nicely. Sometimes there's been challenges. And it's mostly working today the standard of what works and doesn't work. It's you know, it's optional, what we consider the standard. But you know, I'm sorry, that a little bit late. And here we are an IRC. And there's also there's some wonderful coincidence that we will have more Chai was challenged, we were challenged to receive some help here, in IRC in other places with Kevin sitting at the zoo, thank you. Because we're not going to talk about our challenges. And our life's are full of challenges. And I think I'd like to do that for a while now. And this, these teachings, morning teachings here. Last year, I went through that it was the ānāpānasati lesson. And then the year before that, I satipatthāna. And there's a way in which those that often the teachings of the dharma can easily kind of just give the presentation that is just an easy thing to do, just do some of the classic models of the path of practice that the Buddha gives, doesn't really say anything about difficulties, you sit down, and you just go through concentration states, and things are sort of fold very nicely. But in fact, for most people, they be all people. This practice that we do in the life we live, has challenges, lots of challenges. The Buddha has this wonderful kind of metaphor for the human suffering, he said that all the tears that you have shed, in all your many lifetimes, is greater than all the water, and all the oceans. So that's a powerful statement about the nature of this life of ours and the challenges the suffering that this that the losses, the creeps, so much goes on this life is difficult. And the dharma practice is been designed in order to meet that, to work with it, to heal it, to move through it to be discovered freedom in the midst of this difficult world. And so I would like for a while now to talk about the dharma practice, in addressing the challenges we have. And if I can do this, well, I think I'd like to do this little bit like a progression, that building a foundation for really looking at what is most difficult in our lives, and it was challenging in our hearts, because they said that most people are carrying in their hearts. Deep challenges that sometimes are buried for a long time sometimes are very well known. And then to become really free in the stomach practice is not to override those or to push those aside. But the idea is to discover freedom in all, free everything within us. And maybe it's a lifetime journey. But it's a wonderful journey to be on. So last week, I talked about five different meanings of dharma, dharma as related to this dharma as action, dharma as truth, dharma teachings, and dharma as transformation. And I'd like to use those same categories of the dharma to talk more generally deductive and inductive fashion this week, about working with challenges. And, and so for today, the it's the topic of dharma is related this, that dharmette points to not so much to things, not too much to the suffering as a suffering, but rather always wrestling Question, what is the relationship here? How are we relating to it? What how's it related to us? The first dharma talk I gave an insight retreat, when I was still in training to be a teacher was a dharma talk about the importance of looking at our relationship that we have to our experience, rather than fixing experience, rather than focusing on the experience has been the issue, to really take into account how we relate to it. And sometimes I've said that there's only ever two things, there's what's happening, and how we relate to what's happening. But for today, I want to say there are three things, there's what's happening. There's how we relate to it. And then what is it that supports us to relate to it when we go to for support, so that we can relate to things in an effective way, in a, in a useful way, healing way, beneficial way. This idea of relatedness when it however, relating to this, so if you have some challenge in your life, it's easy to get pulled into the dynamics of the challenge and relationships and the issues and what has to happen and what the concerns. But we can also step back and see how am I relating to this challenge. And if we do that, we find out that we might be relating to it with fear. And the fear is different than the challenge. But if we don't see that, then the fear kind of gets entangled with the challenge. And it's separable from it. That next is very much more difficult to deal with. Because there are there's two things going on. There's whatever the challenge is, and then there's the fear and and then where do you put your attention, you deal with the issue, and you deal with your fear. So for example, maybe not a great example of something very silly, that's silly, but simple, is, if you're out driving, you have a flat tire, and you're able to pull over safely in the side of the road. And so the challenge is how to get the tire prepared. But if there's a fear that you can't do it, you'll be stuck here and no one will help you then the practical question of what to do, but the tire has not become entangled with the fear we have. And the fear might be reasonable to have. But there are two different things. And so to ask yourself the question, what's the relationship I have to the flat tire? Oh, the relationship is fear is that the most useful relationship to have it is another relationship that's more useful to have? Maybe a better relationship is looking after your phone and calling for help? Or something? But but when you ask them, when you answer the question, answer the question, What is my relationship to it? Then you have a chance to question Is this the relationship I want to be acting on? Is this one takes predominance? Or is there another relationship that might be more useful? If instead of being afraid, maybe I should be mindful. Maybe this is a time when my mindfulness practice really comes to bear to really be mindful and present for the here so that I stay balanced the fear rather than reducing my balance with it. So the question is, what is the relationship to the challenge can reveal a lot and can begin to tease apart the challenge from how we're experiencing what we're doing with it. And not a few times. Large life challenges are made much more difficult because of how we related to it. And sometimes we relate to things wonderfully, sometimes there's a sense of being counter phobic, we step towards the difficulties we have and we were curious receivable let's find out what's happening here. Let me look at let me let me use this challenge as a place to understand myself better to learn how to be more patient or learn how to be more compassionate or learn how to be more wives are discerning or less caught.
And so then we're bringing the relationship of practice to it. So how am I relating to this? And point the finger to point ourselves back to how I want to relate to it as I want to take it on its practice. And then the practice I trust. So then don't have the dharma practice we talked about that and going for refuge. So we There's something. So there's a third thing, there's what's happening, how I'm relating to it. And then what is it that we want to support us? What's relating to us. And the dharma sense is available as a support. In order, the clearest ways of that is the practice. The practice supports us where the practice has a relationship to us, which may be a little bit counterintuitive, because it can feel like I'm the one who's practicing. I'm the one who's applying myself. And then that could be that's true. But when you apply yourself in practice, the practice then respond something inside responds to honesty, to truth, to presence, to care, to compassion, that we bring as we practice something response. And that responsibility is something that's coming, that's going to support us. And there are times in life, when we can't figure out what we can do for ourselves. Everything seems so difficult, so hard. And that's a time when Buddha's sometimes will go go for refuge will go and tour the support of the dharma. And it kind of can take the shape of this is hard. I'm not sure I can manage this, but I trust the practice, I trust the dharma. And so I'm going to go for refuge to it, I'm going to rely on it. And it doesn't mean that we become passive, it means that we still offer our practice to it. But we don't, we're not caught in the ER are frozen by I don't know how to do it. I don't know what's supposed to happen, or this seems impossible. We trust this new, larger is holding us. It's not always obvious what that larger dharma support will be. Sometimes is many, many different things depending on the circumstances. But it's phenomenal that for me in my life, how often I've been challenged, where I didn't know what to do, didn't know what to say. And I took refuge in the practice, I took refuge in mindfulness to show up and be present. So much so that one of the greatest gifts for me of doing this mindfulness practice inside practice, is the phenomenal trust that I have in mindfulness practice itself. I trust the practice more than my own minds ability to understand something or to figure things out or to solve all the problems. But I'll certainly do my best. But as mindfulness means I'll show up and stay present. I'll stay with it and try to be honest, try to feel and be present and recognize what's happening. Stay in the present moment with this and really take it in what's happening, don't turn away from what's happening, but also don't attack what's happening. Don't shut down, don't despair, don't collapse, the darkness is show up. And trusting it trusting the mindfulness. And so to say, related with the relatedness as part of the dharma practice, we're in relationship. We're in relationship to ourselves in relationship to our challenges for English and for the wider world. And it's in relationship to us. And something like the dharma, the Buddha, dharma saññā. Or if that's language, you don't care for the mindfulness practice itself. There's a reciprocity there, where we offer ourselves to the practice, and then the practice supports us. And it's very fortunate thing here because if it was all up to our own abilities, our own intelligence or it probably be impossible for most of us to really work work with some of the huge challenges of life and death, that this will, this human life brings us the degree of, box of betrayal that we go through in this life, it can be huge. And so how to practice with it. So how do we what's our relationship to it? And when we go for for support, so we can relate to rest and sleep Words, that's this word of the world, the relatedness. And it's a protection against, against getting kind of solidified or frozen. In the notion, it's all up to me, it's all happening to me, it's all about me. It's all about them. They're doing, there's something bigger, probably not here, that belongs to the world of relatedness relatedness that we all live in. So if you have challenge today, whether it's small or large, even if it's small, don't overlook it. Even it's so small that you can just kind of bypass it and not think about it. But if you have some challenges today, ask yourself the question we do relating to it. That's not really part of the challenge. But what's the relationship to it? And even if the challenge is internal to yourself, how are you relating to it? What are their beliefs? What are the attitudes? What are the desires that are coming to play in relationship to it, the emotions? And then is there something that you can also point you that's relating to you, maybe the practice of mindfulness, maybe the dharma is Earth. Something else that support you, that makes it easier for you to go through it? Because you're not doing it alone. You have the support of Buddha dharma sangha. So I call upon all of this for myself today. Little make because I felt a little bit confused, sitting down here making all this work, but trusted the dharma here and we'd find our way. So here we are. So thank you. Proceed, we can make it a little bit nicer, easier tomorrow. And if not close to this way again, and then Wednesday, we should be back in IMC. Thank you all.