Changing My Mind, Year After Year
“The greatest miracle is the miracle of learning”
Asked to reflect on how I have changed my mind and perspective over years of Dharma practice and teaching, I recognize that I have changed my mind about a hundred things. Effort in meditation is one example. I used to think that to become free you had to practice like a samurai warrior, but now I understand that you have to practice like a devoted mother of a newborn child. It takes the same energy but has a completely different quality. It’s unwavering compassion and presence that liberates rather than having to defeat the enemy in battle.
Here’s another thing: I used to think that sitting in meditation was enough, that it would really change everything in your life in a whole and complete way. For a few people, it might work out that way, but in general, it ain’t so. For most of us, meditation is one part of a whole mandala of awakening, which includes attention to your body, attention to your relationships, attention to right speech and right livelihood.
I used to think that deeper, better meditation and practice was happening in the centers in Asia than what we could teach here in America, and that for the real thing you had to go to Thailand or Burma or India or Tibet. Many of us who studied in Asia used to think that, and maybe some still do. But now, when I go back to Asia, I realize that beautiful deep practice is happening in Burma and Thailand and India and Tibet, and the same beautiful deep practice is happening here, at our centers and in our lives, and I think, “Oh, that was just a delusion I had.”
Wherever you are is the perfect place to awaken. This moment is the exact place to practice compassion and loving awareness. You have all the ingredients to breathe and find freedom just where you are.