Aloha, Noah Markus checking in from the island paradise of Maui.
As it turns out, you can still catch a cold in paradise. I usually look at a large amount of mucus as a negative, but like Krishna Das was talking about today, we tend to take so much for granted that we’re in dire need of a shift in perspective. So I accept this generous offering of a head cold, and I refuse to let it ruin an amazing experience. On to the highlights of the day…
- Sharon Salzberg kicked off the morning with a great session on the ways we can cultivate generosity of the spirit, which is really what her Lovingkindness practice is all about.
- As Sharon broke down the concept of Lovingkindess (metta), she talked about the three qualities that are associated with it: compassion, sympathetic joy (which is pure generosity, being happy for the happiness of others), and equanimity (which is balance born of wisdom, perspective). Equanimity, she said, is really the secret ingredient for all the other qualities.
- Finally, Sharon guided us through the Lovingkindness practice, which is an extremely powerful experience. I’ll try to give you all a taste in a moment.
Roles and Souls
- Next up was Ram Dass talking with Jack Kornfield about roles and identity, and how difficult it can be to receive generosity (or help of any kind, really).
- Ram Dass started the session off by reminding everyone that you don’t have to always DO, you just have to BE. “Recognize the light within, be the light within,” Ram Dass said, “And you’ll start to recognize other people as souls.”
- After a loving awareness practice, Ram Dass talked about how we can all play our parts in this world, but we should never identify with our roles. Roles are in the mind, but soul is in the heart.
Settle Into Being
- Mr. Pilgrim Heart, Krishna Das, took the stage for an afternoon workshop centered on chanting. “Chanting isn’t about making anything happen,” he said, “It’s about chanting.”
- Basically, you can’t force a spiritual breakthrough to happen through practice, it just doesn’t work like that. “Do your practice, live your life,” Krishna Das said. And gradually, sometimes very gradually, we begin to see things differently, from the inside.
- Finally, Krishna Das cautioned us not to approach chanting like a drug, even though it can very much feel that way sometimes. Chanting is about training your heart and mind to settle in, to relax, to just be.
Here’s a small taste of Sharon’s Lovingkindness practice. Take a few moments to reflect on each point:
- Start by honoring yourself with these phrases: May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be peaceful.
- Move on to a benefactor, someone who instantly makes you smile when you think about them (for me it was my puppy): May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful.
- Next comes a person you might not feel too pleasant about at the moment: May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful.
- Finally, make the offering to all living beings: May we be safe. May we be happy. May we be peaceful.
May we all have a safe, happy, peaceful night. Aloha for now…