I’ve been listening to Pema Chodron’s audiobook called “Coming Closer to Ourselves: Making Everything the Path of Awakening”. She talks about how it’s not just the pristine sacred sitting space that’s our path, but everything is. Mental breakdowns, screaming kids, etc. The entire package is a part of our path to realization. I thought about this as I was driving to tai chi. I looked around me and imagined “What if this very road were the road to enlightenment. If everything in my life is part of my path, then so is driving down this road”. When I changed my view of the road, I discovered that the entire driving experience changed. Instead of it being a hum-drum, boring experience where I sat festering over my problems, it became an extension of my meditation cushion. The houses joined the items on my meditation altar, and the entire world became a sacred place. I noticed ribbons wrapped around tree trunks, old Christmas lights still dangling, curly-cues in porch railings. The runner and the old man I saw became fellow hobbits on my fantasy journey to nirvana. Instead of being separate entities, they were a part of my fellowship, making the exact same journey as I was.
It reminded me about an experience I had 4 years ago when my mother came to live with me. I had been doing a lot of meditating, and had cleaned my house and was doing yoga, and thought I was both mentally and physically ready for her to live with us.
Initially I was filled with gratitude towards her. She became my dharma teacher — every time I felt challenged by her, it gave me something solid to push off of in order to ground myself; like a sense of perspective.
Eventually I wore down and it all went to hell and I went back into my depression and sleeping pills and inability to cope. Now that I’m back to repairing my life, I can recall those moments, though, as I was walking down my beautiful country street, deep in a sort of walking meditating calm, thanking my mother.
I wondered if this is what meditation practice is all about. Is that how people develop compassion? By expanding their meditating into the entire world to make everything sacred space?