Saturday, May 28, 2011

Small Choices, Beautiful Music

We humans are particularly adept at mucking up the waters, complicating that which doesn’t need to be complicated, confusing what doesn’t need to be confused. So it’s wise to regularly sweep the slate clean and return to the basics. I found the novel, Breakfast With Buddha, by Roland Merullo, helpful in this regard.

Merullo brings us a delightful character in Volya Rinpoche, a Siberian monk on a road trip across America. In his halting English, Rinpoche shares many spiritual concepts in plain terms with Otto, his unwilling and often disgruntled tour guide. Case in point, a discussion of free will.

“Many times every day,” Rinpoche explains, “you can go one way or the other way. You can go with anger or not go. Go with greed or not go. Go with hate or not go...These feel like small things, small choices, but every day, across one life, across many, many lives (you can) choose the good way, again and again and again, in what you are thinking and what you are doing.”

So, when life seems overwhelming and I lose sight of the big picture, I can consciously zero in on what’s right in front of me. Each and every moment offers me options, and choosing among them is really all I need to do.

I arrive at an appointment to find my name not on the schedule. I notice tears in someone’s eyes. A glass slips from my hand and shatters on the floor. I witness unkindness. I’m late for work and behind an exceptionally slow driver. I walk through the beauty of nature with my thoughts drifting elsewhere.

In every situation, options are available to me. Which will I choose? How will I direct this precious life energy given me?

While most of us generally try to do the right thing, this kind of specificity requires an awareness that makes it a life practice indeed. Yet, according to Merullo’s Rinpoche, by repeatedly choosing wisely, an inner quiet can begin to develop. “And,” Rinpoche explains, “that quiet space gives you a chance to see deep, deep into the world if you want to.”

Do we want to? Will we make room in our lives for deep looking? Another choice.

When asked about violence and hatred in the world, Rinpoche's answer is also simple. "I don't know the why. I know the is. This is the world and always the world...Inside the big world that you cannot control, you have the small world of you that you can control. In that small world, if you look, you can see whether to go this way toward good, or that other way.”

He goes on to explain that in his lineage, God is not seen as “up in the sky looking at you and judging you.” Instead, God is “giving out love and giving out love and giving out love…like a very nice music always playing. If you hurt people you make yourself deaf to this music, that's all. Not God’s fault, your fault. Not God’s judgment, your choice, you see? You make yourself no chance to feel God, or the moon going up, or any good love.”

Small, seemingly insignificant choices, minute by minute, day after day. Choices that help us find our way to the love streaming through every minute, to the joy of the music that is always playing.
Now that’s a kind of simplicity I can hang with!

May we all grow our ability to hear the music.

Loanne Marie

PS. And thanks to Linda for lending me Breakfast with Buddha!


Anonymous said...

We need to be reminded that we DO have choices! Thanks for this reminder - here's to the music and the dance of life.

Loanne Marie said...

I agree. Not only do we sometimes feel powerless, but we have a way of unconsciously moving through our lives. "Go with the flow" is a lovely concept, but one that seems to need to be balanced with our individual responsibility to discern wisely.

And "YES!" to music and dancing!!! Choosing wisely brings us fully into the dance, into the music. We add our own steps, our unique voice, to the whole. I rather think that's why we're here.

Thanks so much for writing!

Rockey said...

Hi Loanne, I will buy a copy of Breakfast With Buddha, sounds very good. Thanks for all the other sources you have cited in the past, too (thanks to Linda, also for bringing this to Loanne's attn).

Last week I heard somewhere that, "Days go by slowly but the months and years pass by quickly".

That is so true for me, taking things moment by moment. It is easier to take things that way when I am at home, surrounded by the people and surroundings of my choosing.

But I get most stressed at work when I am engulfed in a 'sea of humanity' and the sharks circle me - sometimes it is all I can do to look at them and say, "Really?"

I like that quote, 'Giving out love and giving out love and giving out love'. That is going to help me deal with the sharks.

Thanks again for your forum. I just caught up with the last posting; please let us know when Monica's book is published; it sounds like a good thing!

Loanne Marie said...

I agree, Rockey~~it's much easier to be content in the moment when it's a moment of our choosing. Though, to tell you the truth, I often have trouble being fully being present even then. I have to continue to practice this, appreciating the delight within those experiences.

But yes, it's that 'sea of humanity', and particularly those fish not of our choosing, that give us the real challenge and show us just where we are on this path. And remembering to 'listen to the music that is always playing' does bring a helpful perspective to our interactions with all the little, and not so little, fishies!

Thanks for writing!!! And good luck with the sharks!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lo -- again, just great. My particular favorite this time is the answer to "How to make sense of all the craziness in the world" == A: "I don't know the why. I know the is. This is the world and always the world...Inside the big world that you cannot control, you have the small world of you that you can control. In that small world, if you look, you can see whether to go this way toward good, or that other way.”
I too want to read Breakfast with Buddha -- Sam

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, I agree, that quote is a keeper. So simple, eh? Just this moment and the choices we see in it...and then, this next moment and those choices as well.

And as we focus like this, it would seem that we would gradually recognize a greater number of options available, and would also grow in our ability to enact our chosen ones more gracefully. We can hope anyway!

Thanks for writing!

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Leia Marie