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Practicing with Disappointment


Things don’t always go our way. 


The Anacortes Mindfulness Community recently had to cancel our 5 Mindfulness Trainings transmission ceremony. We’d worked toward this moment for months and many of us were disappointed. This week’s Dharma talk addresses how we practice with disappointment.

Are we buffeted by the 8 World Winds or can we see gain and loss as our teacher?


In the Lokavipatti Sutta, the Buddha teaches us to wake up right here in this world - a world of gain and loss, fame and ill-repute, pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness. These pairs, known as the 8 Worldly Winds, blow constantly through our lives and always arrive together, like conjoined twins. When gain arrives, loss follows closely behind. Most of us grasp after the upside of these pairs and run like mad from the downside.

 

Yet it is possible to let go of grasping and aversion. During sitting meditation, we courageously face this moment’s truth, whether that is happiness or unhappiness, pleasure or pain. We don’t grab or flee anything. Starting small, we learn that each of these winds is inconstant, impermanent, and subject to change. There is nothing substantial to grasp or avoid. Then, when strong winds blow, our sitting meditation has nurtured strong roots so we can stand confidently among the fiercest winds without fear of being uprooted. Our branches may be buffeted, but we remain safe, securely grounded in our own experience of equanimity.


Our 5 Mindfulness Trainings transmission ceremony may have been delayed, but that doesn’t stop us from practicing the Precepts right in the middle of this disappointing breeze. We don’t need a license to wake up. In fact, disappointment is a wise Zen Master opening us to the Worldly Winds blowing in our lives right now. Will we root ourselves in kind awareness of things as they are, or will we cling to our flimsy branches? The choice is ours.




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