With gratitude for you and our practice together…December 25, 2022 | 32 Comments
Dear Open Heart Project,
Instead of a meditation video, I thought I’d send you a note to wish you a happy, healthy, joyful new year. I hope you will experience all the blessings of your path in 2023 and always.
At this time of year, it is tempting (and understandable) to think about what we want to create, build, change, and who we want to become. At least these are the things I think about during this liminal space between years. Must work harder! Must do better! And so on and so forth.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with these admonitions particularly, but rather then inspiring me, they often exhaust me. There is just so far to go, I think to myself.
At such moments, it enriches me immeasurably to think of the words of the great scholar, sage, and master, Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, with whom I have had the incredible good fortune to discuss my own practice from time to time. In one such conversation I was despairing of ever progressing along the path. I was (and remain) a very bumbling practitioner. When will I ever “get it”? I wondered. His response:
“Don’t think about how far you have to go. Think about how far you have come.”
The moment I heard these words, I relaxed. I realized that I had come a long way. I saw that my progress was marked, not by great flashes of realization or experiences of bliss (whatever that is), but of countless tiny moments where I let my preconceived notions go, managed to avoid being hooked by usual triggers, took a chance on expressing my real feelings, discovered patience for people and situations that I’d rather ignore, found ways to avoid losing my temper (on good days), and to soften toward, well, everyone (on really good days)–especially myself. Most of all–and I think this is a potent marker of progress–I had become more real, true to myself, willing to turn towards my actual experiences, which include love, joy, kindness–sure–but also irritation, rage, jealousy, dullness, and endless awkwardness. Also, my sense of humor improved. (No small thing, that!!) I found that I could make space for Susan Piver to be…Susan Piver.
I wish this for you, that your practice will turn you, not into some kind of saint, but into some kind of EXACTLY WHO YOU ALREADY ARE. Another way of saying this is: I hope that the voice of your inner teacher grows stronger with every breath.
As we enter this new year, perhaps you could spend some time reflecting on how far you have come, on what you have discovered about your inherent kindness, brilliance, and bravery. I would love to hear what you discover.
Love always, Susan
PS Also: please consider becoming a member of the Open Heart Project sangha as it gives us the opportunity to practice together more closely.