Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eye of the storm

It's tough being a teacher these days. Besides the daily vitriol I see on TV, in New Jersey, teachers are getting clobbered by hostile legislation. Increased benefit and pension contributions, salary caps, the elimination of tenure, massive curriculum overhauls, merit pay--my head is spinning.

Think of it this way: imagine walking into work tomorrow morning to discover that every aspect of your job is about to change. I mean every.

Talk about stressful.

Add to that drama in my extended family and my blood pressure looks like Lance Armstrong's while he's pedalling in the Tour de France. I've also started drinking more coffee than is good for me. Put all that in a blender, press 'puree' and you have a recipe for a meltdown. That or some good practice.

So last night, amidst all this upheaval, I climbed the stairs, lit my candles, made my prostrations to the Buddha and began sitting. At first my head was a torrent of thoughts, a maelstrom of anger and confusion:

"Why is this happening to me?"

"I don't need this crap in my life!"

"This just isn't my problem. Why am I letting this bother me?"

And then silence struck. All my worries dropped away and I sat in complete silence. It wasn't kensho. There was no dropping off of body and mind. I was simply as calm as a sleeping baby.

It was the eye of the storm.

Immediately I was filled with the greatest appreciation for this practice. It's a sacred thing, a tonic in a world of delusion and strife. I honestly have no idea where I would be without it.

It's exactly what I needed last night.
Practice provides a still point from which to view the world. As my life bounces and flounders, my practices remains undisturbed. Non-abiding, I think the Buddha would call it.
In fact, I suspect that practice thrives during periods of instability, because the contrast only serves to highlight the natural stillness of the mind.
And Buddha knows I need some stability these days!
Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: Dru!

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