Learning to Love Little Things — we get so focused on the big externals (drama!) that we lose sight of the only thing that matter — what’s going on inside — the little things.
A couple of Rumi quotes:
When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again and again,
“This is certainly not like we thought it was!”
Be patient. Respond to every call that excites your spirit.
Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back toward disease and death.
No need to announce the future!
This now is it. This. Your deepest need and desire is satisfied by the moment’s energy
here in your hand.And, in speaking about “god,” Rumi wrote:
In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that becomes this art.
Quoted from: The Essential Rumi, trans. by Coleman Barks
In my own life walk, I notice how easy it is to distract myself with “large things,” which inevitably are “out there.” I suspect that I mostly bog myself down by not going “in” enough — not noticing the “little things.”
It is a complicated and ultimately fruitless walk to wander here and there, seeking yet one more affirmation, one more book, one more quote, one more technique. There are all external things — all of which says the same thing and none of which becomes our core way of being.
Instead, we need to continually look at who are who we are at the core of ourselves. The work and the walk, the truly Zen approach is, as it has been said, “an inside job.”
Oh, I know. We want to make it both complicated and large. Here’s an example:
A client described problems with her parents, her ex-husband, creditors and her kids. After each description she would sigh and say, “If only I didn’t have this needy (person, thing) in my life, I could be happy. I’ve spent years trying to fix things. But they never change.”
The “stage” of her life seemed to be the size an amphitheatre… and the drama the size of Everest… until you look inside.
Inside, you would see this person standing bowed over under the weight of her life, choosing to try to make things all better for everyone else.
As we explored this, she could not think of one time that her efforts at bailing out another had ever worked. Not once! She stated that, in middle age, life had passed her by, and that she’ll never be happy. Besides, her kids are 13 and 15, she’s separated, and all of her time “should be” dedicated to keeping them happy. Right?
Her issue, you see, what not the “difficult others” in her life. Her issue was that “outside” was the only place she was looking.
For Rumi, the “way” of life — for Zen, the “way” of life, might be described as looking deeply into a mirror. Rumi says, “The green felt cover slips, and we get a flash of the mirror underneath.”
Even when the external times are difficult.
I mentioned some weeks ago how a friend of our down here seems to be immersed in all things Trump. Dar and I drove him the the airport yesterday. We got to within 15 minutes of the airport before he tossed out a soft pitch.
He said that I’d been right about something immigration related. My little ego perked right up. Then, he rounded on me, I bit, and we were once again away to the races.
Dar refused to bite. My supervisor used to call her The Buddha. She’s right.
I finally stopped myself, dropped him off, had a breath, and went back to being present — i.e. Trump isn’t here in Costa Rica. It was all sun, blue sky and white clouds. I found myself flowing within myself, seeing images, hearing the voices of friends old and new, here and there, living and dead. I felt truly alive, in the moment, and lacking nothing.
This morning my shoulders are tight, and I have a headache. A reminder from my body that playing with externals is never a good idea; there is only what I can do, now.
There are such depths of riches within each of us, and much of it is pushed aside on the altar of wishing life was other than it is. So much external data, flooding by, and such a temptation to assign importance to any of it. So many people, so little time.
It’s about actually doing something, as opposed to only complaining… and then expecting that to accomplish something.
You have to stop yourself.
Then, your eyes open to the simple pleasure of sitting in silence, breathing.
It’s living primarily in the internal world, and then making what we learn about ourselves manifest in the external world.
Where is your passion? Where else? Inside, waiting for you to show up and notice. Where is your vocation? Where else? Inside, waiting for you to take it seriously. Where is your voice? Inside, bubbling over with your words, understandings, all waiting to be expressed. Where are your relationships? With whom? There’s only you, loving you. Or not.
All there is — all — is now. It’s all — now. When you get this, you resonate with Rumi: “This is certainly not like we thought it was!”
Amen to that!