How to create a sane world: a Buddhist View (part 3)

August 24, 2020   |   2 Comments

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 9:55

Hello excellent Open Heart Project,

As you may know, I am sending you videos once a week during this intense time of reckoning, uncertainty, and, yes, hope.

Sometimes it is hard to see that last bit. One of my favorite books of all time is On Becoming an Alchemist by the wonderful writer and teacher Catherine MacCoun. In it, she discusses principles of magic–how to change what is base to what is fine–from a spiritual point of view. The first step in transformation is to introduce what is fixed into a state of volatility. For example, if you want ice, you render water volatile by putting it in a freezer. It starts to change. You can’t just shout at water and demand it to freeze.  I’m moving my office back from one space to another and what had created a sense of place–my desk here, a chair there, plants on the sill–is now in pieces, volatile, in the process of reconstituting a new sense of space. If you have ever heard a snippet of a song, burst into tears, and suddenly realized you had been been holding a lot of painful feelings just beyond your conscious awareness, you can say your inner terrain entered volatility. If your heart has ever been broken, you understand volatility quite well.

It is not hard to see that, as a country, a culture, a species, a planet, we are in multiple states of volatility. Volatility is scary, and for excellent reasons. Structures are in disarray. We don’t know who we can count on or what to hold on to. It may sound weird to say so, but this could be considered very good news because it is only when the fixed becomes volatile that true change can occur.

As meditators, we can support positive change because in our practice, we cultivate clarity, compassion, patience, and bravery. By sitting with the beauty and chaos of our own minds, we find we can sit with the beauty and chaos of this world without running away, or running away less, let’s face it 🙂

This capacity comes from creating a gap between what we think or feel and what we do.

Today’s topic, Right Speech (the 3rd of the steps on the noble eight fold path; step one is here and stop two is here–but you don’t have to go back and watch unless you want to) has the capacity to turn fixed into volatile and volatile into fixed. The moment where aggression or compassion are chosen is the moment in between. Words (and communication in general) can open minds or close them. Soften hearts or freeze them. Words can clarify, confuse, support, attack, expand, diminish, open doors or slam them shut. It all depends on what you do with your mind the moment before you communicate.

Our practice, of course, teaches us how to become familiar with that very moment and, as such, is a gateway to the magic that can transform what is broken into something whole.

Don’t take my word for any of this, please.

As you go about this day or this week or this life, pay attention to the moments of volatility that surround you. Don’t fool yourself. Experience them for what they are, whether exciting, painful, encouraging, threatening, or all of the above. You could also see them as the time-honored moment just before everything turns to gold. All it takes is all the courage and kindness you possess. You can do it.

Next week: Right Action.

Remember, these weekly videos are 100% free. Please send the sign up link to anyone who might find them useful. Remember too that the Open Heart Project offers 3 free LIVE meditations every day, Monday-Friday. (In September, we will cut back to two meditations per day.) You don’t need to sign up, just click the link for the schedule. All the teachers are wonderful. Please share.

All my love, Susan

categorized in:


  • Posted by:  Riitta

    Dear Susan

    Thank You so much for these Teachings! They are so clear, simple, understandable, and – short enough! That’s why I’m able to be fully concentrated all the time. I live in Switzerland, and follow the News from the USA in “New York Times” every day, sending Blessings over there. I practiced your seminar „Start Here Now“ two years ago. It was very helpful also:)


    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So delighted to hear it! Sending love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *