With a little encouragement from my friend Christopher King, I discovered Buddhism as a way of life in 1989. At the time, I was transitioning out of the Veteran Administration’s outpatient drug and alcohol program in Salt Lake City and I was looking for a practice to sustain me. I was looking for an approach to living that would help me stay sober, positive, healthy, and alive.
The very best teaching my first Zen teacher gave me was: No matter what is happening and, no matter if it’s happening “on the inside” or “on the outside”, first and foremost, be aware of what’s happening and do your best to relax. Fear might be happening, be aware of fear and relax. If joy is happening, know joy and relax. If a flat tire is happening, be aware of that and relax. Another way to say this is: be aware of what’s happening, notice, and let go of any drama. Simply work with what’s happening as calmly as possible.
Thankfully, We All Can Let Go!
The seasons, and healing, and every kind of letting go are possible because of time. On the other hand, isn’t it interesting how our habits create the impression that we are stuck fast in time? Markedly, our habits insist that some things never change. Most relevantly, they insist that you and I will always be exactly the way we are now. Yet, thankfully, I know I’m not stuck in the well-worn track of my habits. Thankfully, rather than being seduced by habit’s illusory permanence, we all can let go.