How will I use this day?

I am sharing this article written by SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE on ways we can use the day with mindfulness and great awareness. He mentioned that all of us meditate throughout the whole day but the focus is often on “me”. He said that if we cultivate a different outlook on our day and how we spend it, our meditation can turn toward more positive and creative qualities. And they will give us the inspiration and strength to make the decisions we need to encounter life’s challenges.

Our modern culture does not encourage awakening, and without a sense of inner strength, we are easily invaded by the difficulties around us. If we don’t orient our day toward spiritual growth, the speed of our life takes over, fueled by habitual patterns. While some habitual patterns are a source of inspiration, others just drain our energy. Meditation trains us to notice these patterns, which create the fabric of the entity known as ‘me’.

How do we cultivate this mindfulness into the day?

His answer: By seeing the day as our life, and our life as the path, we learn to regard everything we meet as an opportunity to practice. He recommended 7 facets of awakened mind that we can consciously cultivate to enhance the path-like texture of our life.

(1) Egolessness. In order to grow, we must be willing to give up territory. We may look fervently for the teacher, teachings, or situation that fits into our comfort zone, but the path is not going to happen on our own terms. Are we prepared to abandon our habitual patterns – to give up the support of concepts, opinions, and comforts? To make progress, we need to be willing to change.

(2) Faith. The word ‘faith’ often has the sense that even though we’re not really sure about something, we believe in it anyway. The faith we’re talking about here, however, is based on knowing what we’re doing, not in hoping for the best. It’s as if we’ve checked our boat for holes and found none, so we set sail with a yearning to be completely engaged in practice because we’re certain that the teachings will work. The active ingredient of our yearning manifests as strength and compassion. There are 3 kinds of faith. First is the faith of inspiration. Seeing a teacher, hearing a dharma, or visiting a meditation center,we feel immediate inspiration. Faith suddenly arises as a very powerful hit. It hooks our mind and we become excited about it. We just know. But that kind of faith is not sustainable. We must supplement our inspiration with curiosity, from which the second kind of faith arises, understanding. We ask ourselves, ‘What made that person that way? Why is this place so powerful?’ Unless we investigate our inspiration, we will lose our motivation to practice. So we get curious – reading, studying, and hearing dharma. That’s how we increase our understanding, which leads to a deeper kind of faith because we know why we were inspired in the first place. The third kind of faith is following through. Having been impressed, then curious, we now think, ‘I want to be like that, so I will follow through.’ The three kinds of faith naturally sequence into a potent driving force, combining inner strength and compassion.

(3) Daring. Daring to do what? We dare to jump out of our samsaric habitual tendencies into more dharmic ones. When we see ourselves falling into the ‘me’ meditation, we emerge from our hallucination and courageously take a leap into a more open place. This can be as simple as giving up our place in line to someone in a hurry.

(4) Gentleness. If we dare to jump out of laziness, we might become slightly aggressive, thus this quality of gentleness is needed for cultivation. This means slowing down so that we synchronize our intention with our speech and action. Our intention is to use the day as a spiritual path. What is the path? It is a place to grow. With gentleness, we provide the space and warmth for growth, but we don’t force progress – our own or others’. If we’re not in a rush with our own mind, we have the patience to let things unfold naturally.

(5) Fearlessness. If we become too gentle, however, we might become too feeble, so fearlessness will help to balance it. In terms of how we engage in our life, we’re no longer second-guessing ourselves, because we’re not afraid of our mind. We can look at it head-on. Although we encounter obstacles, we steadfastly move forward; we’re not afraid of giving up territory or taking a leap. Fearlessness has a decisive element, too: at some point we can respond to a situation with a simple ‘ye’ or ‘no’ – the ‘maybes’ go out of the door.

(6) Awareness. No longer cloaked in habitual patterns, no longer using hope and fear to manipulate the environment, we’re aware of what’s happening in our life. We have more energy because we’re not burdened by trying to maintain the concept and polarity of ‘me’. Our practice becomes more three-dimensional.

(7) Sense of humor. No great practitioner is without a good sense of humor. It’s s sign of pliability and intelligence. Who wants to be a brow-heavy practitioner, squinting hard as we try to push out realization? With a dharmic eye, we’re able to see things with some levity because we’re connected to our wholesomeness.

Each morning we can choose one of these elements as a daily contemplation and practice. Throughout the day, we can train ourselves to bring our mind to ‘egolessness’, ‘faith’, or ‘gentleness’, for instance – as words, then action. In the evening, we can take a moment before going to sleep and reflect on what happened: “How did I use this day to nurture my mind and heart?”

(Article taken from “In The Face of Fear” by Shamhala Publications, Inc.)

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