This old watercolour was painted just a 100 metres or so upstream from the spot where I met with an owl one early evening. This is a shallow swampland – gorgeous rust red grass in winter. The dogs running ahead leave deep tracks in the grass into which the water seeps back without relent.
Although I am blessed with a beautiful house and garden in New Zealand, this is a place in South Africa that I often return to in my mind when expectations – the idea of owning and hanging on to things – creep up and close down my world. We become swamped in expectations so stealthily…
The idea of owning and hanging on to things is the illusion of worldly life. The view of the self sends forth all these delusions in which we have to protect ourselves all the time. We’re always endangered, there’s always something to worry about, something to be frightened of. But when that illusion is punctured by wisdom, then there is a fearlessness, we see this as a journey, a transition from the sensory realm and we are willing to learn the lessons it teaches us, no matter what those lessons might be.
Ajahn Sumedho – The Way It Is
When my mind closes down with anxiety and expectations, I have learned this is a useful signal for me to return to centre. David Loy writes:
Anxiety is a school which roots out everything finite and petty in us…the path of integration is an awareness that does not flee anxiety but endures it, in order to recuperate those parts of the psyche which split off and return to haunt us in projected, symbolic form…The way to integrate anxiety is to become completely anxious: to let formless, unprojected anxiety gnaw on all those finite ends I have attempted to secure myself with.
I have found meditation to be a practice that not only deepened all aspects of my life, but also became an invaluable anchor to let down when my life enters a storm. Truly – a single meditation cushion, and one is completely protected:
A single meditation cushion, and oneis completely protected.Earth may crumble, heaven collapse –but here one is at peace.Sacred titles and worldly fame: both fadeaway in sitting.And the universe assembles on the tip of a feather.
The Nun Xinnang, in Daughters of Emptiness by Beata Grant
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