It is this way that we must train ourselves:
by liberation of the self through love.
We will develop love,
we will practice it,
we will make it both a way and a basis,
take a stand upon it,
store it up,
and thoroughly set it going.
As we witness and experience the reverberations of change and conflict in our nation and the world, I’ve found clarity in one aspiration— my sincere intention to use my practice to help me to stand on, and for, love. I used the word “my” intention, but my deeper sense is that this aspiration is not actually “mine” but is part of the fruits that unfold as we practice mindfulness and compassion over time; the way the heart begins to naturally incline toward love. This does not mean, of course, that we feel caring and have access to compassion in every moment. (I surely don’t.) But, what it does mean, is that, in the moments in which we notice that the mind is lost in greed, aversion or confusion, we commit ourselves to doing all we can to pause, recognize and allow what is present, and NOT turn these mind states into actions. Said another way, we practice using our energy to re-direct the mind out of the spin of contraction and confusion and towards the steadiness of awareness and love.
In teaching about wise use of energy, Ajahn Sucitto shares:
“Regulating and directing energy has to do with establishing boundaries. We must consider what is unskillful, what leads to harmful results and should be left aside. And we must consider what is skillful, what channels our energy towards that which is supportive and nourishing… We can bear in mind the reflection: ‘Is this for my welfare, the welfare of others, and does it lead out of stress and towards peace?’ Instead of setting up a boundary between self and other, this reflection aims for a boundary between intentions and action. Then we can check before we cross that boundary…. The key point is that wherever your attention gets established then that’s where your energy goes. And that energy and focus becomes your world.” Parami: Ways to Cross Life’s Floods (2012), Ajahn Sucitto, p. 95, 97.
These teachings on skillful use of energy feel particularly relevant during times of uncertainty, when stress levels are high and energy must be conserved, and consciously directed, in order to maintain our balance. With the barrage of news, information, ads, texts, e-mails, internet sites, etc. that each of us have access to and must navigate most days in this modern world, these teachings can remind us to notice the moments in which we DO have choice about what we decide to let in, and to choose wisely.
From my experience, it is when I feel the resonance of my intentions (for example, when I know that cultivating love matters to me) and when I feel my energy is balanced (vs. depleted or revved up), that I feel able to serve more freely and to receive love.
What is true for you? What intentions matter to you most? What helps to support you in cultivating energy that is balanced (vs. depleted or revved up)? What is different about the moments where you feel connected with your intentions and balanced in your energy? What arises in these moments? If it is helpful, you might hold the affirmation: “Connected with wholesome intention, I protect and direct my energy wisely.”
May our daily life practice help to bring greater moments of peace, wisdom and compassion to our lives and this world during this time of uncertainty and disaccord. May all beings, nature and Earth, be safe and be well.