A Path of Devotion

Welcome back to The Leafy Paw! Here’s a new post, after a while. I got distracted (and lazy) and started making excuses for not writing. I do that because, for people who feel called to a path of devotion, sometimes it is intimidating to do what we really know we must. It can seem like too huge a task ahead, no matter how small the daily steps. But in these months away from writing, since last Fall, I have been still doing Good Deeds: learning to think differently about many things, such as how I approach tasks that cause some anxiety. This has helped me return to writing, and keep up my other practices. “From discipline comes freedom,” said Aristotle. And the magic of learning to live and act in a sacred manner is to always return to the path with compassion for ourselves. The path calls us consistently, and does not reprimand us when we return. It simply is.

It was something I heard once about writing; don’t wait for inspiration to come. Be an open faucet, through which water flows. The water will not flow when the faucet is closed. Funny and true, when I begin writing an email to friends, suddenly a lot of satisfying writing comes pouring out, and I hadn’t written intentionally in some time. But without forethought, the flow of thought into life appears.

This morning, in a yoga class, I found that the moves did not exhaust me quite like they did several months ago when I was pushing hard past barriers of learning those new physical poses. So it’s true then, what Sakyong Mipham says in his excellent book, Running With the Mind of Meditation: we may have been away from our practice for a time, but upon returning, we might find we are doing better than we thought. Ah- there it is again, forethought clouding our heads! How sweet is the non-thought way of animals who live lightly in their minds and fully in their bodies. I experience this, finally…) We haven’t lost everything in our time away, in fact the time away may have subtly empowered our actions, making us better prepared to return to a discipline. I’ve been running lately, and I’m really pleased with how this practice has improved my way of thinking about approaching tasks of difficulty, whether in physicality, writing, or keeping a consistently upright mind when I encounter obfuscating distraction on the sacred way of daily life. It is this: Don’t worry about what you haven’t done. Think only about what you can do right now. It applies to keeping an upright mind in everything. The human mind is full of ghosts. We can drown ourselves in thoughts of what we have or haven’t done, in useless regrets about how something isn’t a certain way. That is not an ounce helpful. It is greater instead to think about what small act of devotion we can practice in this moment, and these moments are what really count. Looking back over a life of these many present moments, we are pleased with a life well-lived. So I think about what is right and good already –in my own life, in my species, in the beautiful world– and from this, the energy of action comes. Sakyong Mipham says, “The mind benefits from stillness. The body benefits from movement.”

I have found that action is truly secondary to being. From being comes action, not the other way around. It’s alarming to see the temptation to be caught up in unaware action without remembering your own core of being. There’s a be-er in that do-er. Give the be-er within the credit for being a vessel of all this crazy action we expect of our lives. But I am very content to be a be-er. I suspect this is why I never get bored. By not dwelling so much on the heavy forethought of doing, and instead lightly showing up to be, from this the right action will come, sustainably and with good energy.


photo© 2013 Gentle J. Pine

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