Buddhanature and the natural state are not just made up of happy, sweet emotions; buddhanature includes everything. It’s the calm, and the disturbed, and the roiled up, and the still; it’s the bitter and the sweet, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. Buddhanature includes opening to all of these things, and it’s found in the midst of all of them.
The process of finding the truth may not be a process by which we feel increasingly better and better. It may be a process by which we look at things honestly, sincerely, truthfully, and that may or may not be an easy thing to do.
Spiritual change is precisely a process that is bigger than you. You don’t control it. You surrender to it. You don’t reinvent yourself through spiritual work. You face yourself, and then you must let go of all the ghastly things you find. But there is no end to these ghastly things. They keep coming. The ego is a bottomless pit of suckiness. And so you finally let go of the self that clings to itself (one definition of ego). True freedom comes when ego goes.
To open yourself up to need, longing, dependency, and reliance on others means opening yourself to the truth that none of us can do this on our own. We really do need each other, just as we need parents and teachers. We need all those people in our lives who make us feel so uncertain. Our practice is not about finally getting to a place where we are going to escape all that but about creating a container that allows us to be more and more human, to feel more and more.
Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Most of us find it very difficult to forgive individuals who have hurt us deeply. Why should we forgive them? Although we sometimes make others feel uncomfortable when we express our anger toward them, we are the ones who wind up suffering the most when we do so. Maintaining anger is similar to picking up a red-hot piece of coal to throw at someone—whether we hit our target or not, we are the ones who get burned.
You can’t go preventing pleasure and pain, you can’t keep the mind from labeling things and forming thoughts, but you can put these things to a new use. If the mind labels a pain, saying, ‘I hurt,’ you have to examine the label carefully, contemplate it until you see that it’s wrong: the pain isn’t really yours. It’s simply a sensation that arises and passes away, that’s all.
I beg you … to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then someday far in the future you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke