I know it has been quite a while—a year and a month—since I have written a post. Nevertheless, I recently remembered how helpful the process of writing can be for clarifying and centering my mindfulness in practice. The other morning, I turned to my wire bound, blank page journal and began writing while in a state of resolve to rise from a recent bout with dissociation, laziness, procrastination and worry. Contextually, unexpectedly, I am going through another new phase of life. My grandmother died late last year and my father died early this year; I’m attending to the needs of major transitions alongside my mother. There’s a lot of new legal and financial situations to navigate and it gets a bit harrowing at times. Gratefully, my mom and I are doing OK, not great, but adequately meeting the complexities of the situation.
I went out to a local Starbucks to write. I like the surrounding activity of a cafe which can move me just beyond my typical self-absorbed consciousness. First, I wrote about how challenging life has been lately, practically documenting an account of my life for myself to reflect on later (as I am now). Secondly, I quickly listed the stuff that I need to attend to nowadays, just to get clearer about what needs doing. Thirdly, I was clear enough to begin writing about what I need to do for myself now—reprioritize—as life has changed somewhat significantly.
Invariably, I must return to re-understanding my relative being among the absolute oneness of non-dual existence. This is the ultimate contextualization or foundation. This absoluteness is as intrinsic as the relativity of our limited human existence, and they’re never actually separate. In this realm of just barely grasping absolute existence, awareness, loving-compassion & pure radiant beauty simply are. Us fallible, egocentric, enculturated creatures tend to act primarily within our situational and conditional contexts, i.e., relativity. Hey, it’s practically necessary! However, when we begin to get the deeper sense of the truth of existence as always impermanent, non-separate and empty, i.e. the absolute, we may connect in a bigger, broader, more spacious way with our/all existence. With this tentative sort of truly wise understanding, relativity and the absolute are not two, but, more accurately, all one. Working with this re-contextualization of life is essential for what I call “practice.”
Furthermore, I went on to write about the important distinction between what and how. In short, relativity is what, practice is how. We could think of relativity as dependent on conditions and situations, while the absolute is not dependent on the causality of conditions and situations. In this way, as the Dharma elucidates about the Tao, our amazing capacity to be aware beyond content (the object/things of what) and be lovingly compassionate no matter what is happening, the reorientation of practice in living daily life is that of making how more important than what. Practicing turning our attention to how our lives are lived through our relative selves and situations is the serious, even radical, and ultimate reprioritization. Understanding this is the foundation of practice and doing this is the beginning of how we may do anything. For an instant, we may also notice that this is also the spacious, empty orientation in connecting with true freedom, creativity and joy. This is our true nature; there is never not working with the way things are, so let’s practice intently.
True practice itself is refuge and the same absolute place of love, no matter what.