“My life has been like a river, it has flowed steadily in one direction.”
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, from Cave in the Snow
I hope you are enjoying these blogs “Studying with the Masters.” Reading for inspiration and learning from the great teachers is one of the greatest joys of my life- and I love sharing them with you. If you have missed any of the previous posts you can check them out here: The Essential Rumi and The Gift of Change by Marianne Williamson.
The practice that I call “Studying with the Masters” is this: choose a book by an author with whom you would like to study and then read the book, noticing a verse, sentence, or paragraph that speaks to you deeply. You know those ah-ha moments when you are reading something and you just know this is meant for you in a very big way! Take that sentence, or paragraph and write it down on a piece of paper or in a journal, reflect on them, then write what you think the passage means; what is the teacher trying to tell you. I do this daily, think of it as a “mini-retreat for the soul” with this inspiring teacher.
If you came to my house and saw my office you would be blown away with how many books I have and how much rich inspiration is on my bookshelf from many of the great saints, masters, mystics, and teachers, both past and present. Today I have chosen a book from one of my most beloved teachers Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. The book is Into the Heart of Life.
Tenzin Palmo is one of the first Westerners to have been ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, and she currently devotes her time to enriching the lives of the young nuns living at the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India. I am honored to have spent time with her, been on retreats, and really have fallen in love with this beautiful Buddhist nun who speaks a language that is accessible and nourishing to all people.
The Cave in the Snow by Vicki Mackenzie. This set me off on a beautiful journey with this amazing woman. Let’s take a look at Into the Heart of Life.
This is one of those books you can read over and over again. It’s practical and filled with so many teachings and messages really for living a life free from suffering.
Let’s look at this paragraph:
“Each one of us is responsible for our own life, and for helping and giving love and understanding to those who are closest around us. Our family, our children, our partners, our parents—they are our practice. They are not an obstacle to our practice. They are the ones who need our loving-kindness, our compassion, our patience, our joyous effort. Our wisdom. It’s not so difficult to sit and meditate on loving-kindness and compassion for all those sentient beings out there somewhere on the horizon. But the sentient beings for whom we really have to generate loving-kindness and compassion are the ones who are right in front of us, especially those for whom we are most karmically responsible. They are our objects of practice. “
—Palmo, Jetsunma Tenzin (2011-05-16). Into the Heart of Life (p. 11). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.
So beautiful! We start by giving the people we live with, and are close to, love, patience, kindness and compassion. This is not always easy- those we live with can push our buttons the most, right? Reading this I think she is giving us the secret to living a life full of meaning, love and joy- practice every moment being present and understanding with our families and friends. If we can “rub off our rough edges” with those close to us we can then extend that out to all of the other beings in our lives. I love this last sentence, “They are the objects of practice.” Every moment of our lives we have the opportunity to give our Focused Attention to the people we are with, to listen to them, to love them for who they are, and to simply be there for them. To do this every chance we get, in the present moment, is our practice- “they are not an obstacle to our practice.”
You all know my passion and purpose in this life is to spread the seeds of inner peace to all and it begins right where we are, in our home and through all the interactions with the people we love and hold dear. No matter how busy our schedules, or how many different directions we are going all day long, being present, living our lives from the inside out, using our “joyous effort” as Tenzin Palmo suggests is the practice for having the life of our dreams.
I leave you here with one more message form this beautiful, life book:
“People are trying to make something meaningful of their lives within the society they inhabit. An important aspect of the Dharma deals with the transformation of our ordinary minds and attitudes in a highly positive way that will bring benefit not only to ourselves but to all those who have contact with us. The basic problem facing us is how to change a mind that is filled with negative emotions, into a peaceful more friendly mind that is a pleasure for everyone(including ourselves)to live with. Our mind with it’s incessant stream of thoughts, memories, opinions, hopes and fears is our constant companion, from which we cannot escape even in our dreams. So it makes sense to cultivate a worthy travel companion for our journey.”
This paragraph is the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life message: Outer peace through inner peace. Start today becoming your own best friend; become a “worthy travel companion” for your life.
With my love and blessings,