It’s up to us. We can spend our lives cultivating our resentments and cravings or we can explore the path of the warrior – nurturing open-mindedness and courage. Most of us keep strengthening our negative habits and therefore sow the seeds of our own suffering. The bodhichitta practices, however, are ways for us to sow the seeds of well-being. Particularly powerful are the aspiration practices of the four limitless qualities: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity …
We start where we are, where the aspirations feel genuine.
One of the primary texts of the Kabbalah, the Zohar, cries out to humankind, saying, “You beings on earth who are in deep slumber, awaken! Who among you has labored to turn darkness into light and bitterness into sweetness?” It pleads with us, “Stop sleeping! Wake up! What are you waiting for?”
– Rabbi David A. Cooper, from God Is A Verb
To wake up is to open the heart. To sit with the craving. To experience it. To listen to what it is here to communicate. As my friend Susa says, to become an expert in craving, in restlessness, in watching it pass instead of being enslaved and asleep at the wheel.
To wake up is a brave and heroic act, requiring not stuntwork but a willingness to stay, to stay still, to take a breath before the unkind words come pouring out, to pause before raising your hand in anger.
To wake up is to taste the bitterness and to taste the sweetness. Not to change it, not to fix it, not to transform it. Simply to say yes, this is bitter. Yes, this is fear. This is what fear feels like in my throat. This is how my chest tightens and tenses. Yes, this is how I want to hide. Yes, this is how I want to lash out.
To wake up is to say oh, how sweet this is, this ripe plum. How amazing to breathe in the back of this child’s head as she leans up against my face. How beautiful, those brooding rain clouds, so many dimensions of gray and green.
To wake up is to open my eyes and see how I sow the seeds of my own suffering when I sleepwalk through my days. How I feed the resentments, the fears, the edge, the impatience.
To wake up is to love myself, not because of this, not despite it, but because that is the beginning of loving the babies, and the light, and the struggle, and the surrender.
To wake up might mean slowing down or it might mean sprinting that last tenth of a mile, flying, heart open to the path ahead.
And my very own little Pearl says it straight: Mama, WAKE UP! Mama, NO SLEEPING!
(What are we waiting for? We start where we are, where the aspirations feel genuine.)
Mt. Hunger photo by Miv London