The more conditions we set for our happiness, the more we feel frustrated and offended when life doesn’t meet those conditions. The more I rely on comfort for example, the more I will struggle when I’m uncomfortable. With meditation too, the more we insist on certain conditions for our practice, the less accessible meditation feels. We easily imagine for example that we should feel a certain way, or that the surroundings need to be quiet; our ideas reinforced by the kind of rarefied environment of silence and support that we get on retreat.
I am currently taking a group of Dharma students to the various places of Buddha’s life and teaching. Travelling through India is a constant reminder to receive life’s just-as-it-as, rather than struggle with how we would like it to be. Last night we met, 20 of us, in a train compartment made for 4, to meditate together and explore dharma teachings. (see the photo above) These are not the conditions we imagine for meditation; Indian trains are noisy and not very smooth. Sounds and smells fill the air. The train movement nudges people against each other, back and forth, as they try to sit straight and still. Yet right here, this is how it is!
Buddha called it Thathata, the just-like-this-ness of experience, expressing the way life actually is, beyond our preferences and preoccupations, regardless of our reaching for what we want and resisting what we don’t want. It is an invitation to give ourselves wholeheartedly to what arises, just as it is. Can you receive this moment, whether you like it or not? Can you respond to what is, rather than react to your own judgements?
Receiving and responding, instead of reaching and resisting. Every moment offers you that practice opportunity.