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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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What's happening is just what's happening

Mark Otter included a nice quote from the excellent Shambhala Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön in yesterday's edition of the Nondual Highlights (Sun-27-Dec-2009). In this quote, Pema outlines one of her favourite topics and one of the topics on meditation and daily life that I have found the most resonant for me personally in the past weeks and months. Namely, that the world goes on just as it is regardless of whether or not we attach our own judgment to it, so why not just drop the judgment and end the suffering inherent in our wishing that the world was other than how it is in this moment?

Fellow nonduality reader confliction took some issue with me about this topic recently and held my feet to the fire about how this concept might actually condone a willful and blissful ignorance towards real suffering that occurs in the world. From the perspective of radical nonduality, this is actually a non-issue: it is purely an academic talking point that doesn't have much bearing from a truly nondual outlook. Having said that, the reason why I keep returning to these themes personally is because I find that they're helpful for me in getting through the stress of my day. Invariably, I find that it's my emotional reactions and self-righteousness that gets me into the most "trouble" when I encounter stressful events in my day. The more that I let go of my expectations of "the way things should be," the more quickly I can get over perceived slights against me or what I perceive as situations that require "fixing;" in this way, I can bring a sort of lightness to apparently negative situations that defuses their negativity really quickly and lets me move on after just a few moments.

In my own personal life, this comes in super helpful in the rearing of my two young toddler boys (their 7-year-old sister is not nearly as challenging as they are in this regard). Unwittingly, my sons are fantastic adepts at pushing my buttons, and whenever I can harbour an attitude of acceptance towards their natural, childish foibles, this helps our relationship immensely. I can cultivate feelings of acceptance towards them for who they are at the age at which they are, instead of getting angry with them for not acting more maturely than their given calendar age. They certainly provide many opportunities each day for me to get frustrated by them throwing toys, fighting over toys, climbing up to the counter to reach breakable items, and all that kind of stuff. But if I deal with them from a position of acceptance instead of wishing that they'd act differently, it really helps my own frustration levels a lot. In short, it serves as a reminder to me that they're just sweet little young people who haven't yet developed a sense of logic or consequence to their actions yet. And who, except someone enmeshed in overly high expectations for a 3-year-old, could take serious issue with that fact?

Even though I've found myself in a myriad of inordinately stressful work situations related to my former profession in IT project management and software development, I can safely say that parenting has thrown up the most intense challenges yet for my own personal and spiritual growth. Some day I'd like to write a book about the lessons I've learned from my kids. (Not that that's ever been done before!)
Then you begin to realize that what's happening is just what's happening. Whether it's outside or what's being triggered in you, it's just what's happening. And all this other stuff is laid on top of it by the thoughts: the good and the bad, and the right and the wrong, and the should and the shouldn't.

So, what Dale [Asrael] said yesterday is, "When you break the identification with the thoughts, suddenly there's space." And I wrote that down because that has been my experience.

That's a hard one, but it's helpful to know it as something that you just know, that when you label thinking and go back to the present moment, being with the breath or the body sensations or sounds, whatever – coming back to the immediacy of your experience – there's the possibility of the very real, that moment has the potential of connecting with space, or opening up the space. Choosing a fresh alternative.

When you don't choose the same old way, the same old stale story line, then there's the opportunity for something new and fresh to present itself to you. The world can open up in an unprecedented way.

– Pema Chödrön
(x-posted here to nonduality)