“Look lovingly on some object. Do not go on to another object. Here in the middle of this object – the blessing.” from a translation of the Vijnana Bhairava in Zen Flesh and Bones.
This teaching is so relevant for me right now. Much has fallen away to make room for a longed-for baby, and now life is full of the simplicity of caring for that baby. I have preserved my daily meditation practice, but still I wonder how will I nourish my spiritual practice while caring for my baby, and maintaining my other relationships and responsibilities? For now, I cannot go on retreat or travel to be with my Teacher. I cannot enroll in any of the amazing teacher trainings currently available near or far. I cannot fill my cup in these ways. Yet, right in front of me – the object of my attention, the baby – draws me into the deepest of practices. “Here in the middle of this object – the blessing.”
And so, with renewed determination, I say to my mind “let go,” I put the i-phone out of reach, and I “do not go to another object.” Yes, right here is the opportunity to travel, to be close to my Teacher, to train at a higher level. It’s all right in front of me. Wish me good luck, and wherever you are, feel free to join me.
The other day, I treated myself to a large cup of convenience store coffee with hazelnut creamer. The flavor was both satisfying and familiar. This is not my normal fare. I am by and large a green tea drinker these days, with an occasional cappuccino splurge from the city’s best locally owned coffee shop. Today, however, something inside of me longed for convenience store coffee. The coffee sat in my car in an insulated cup while I took a hike with my dog. Somehow, when I returned to my car, the coffee’s flavor seemed even more satisfying and delicious. After a few generous sips, I felt a wave of remembrance of my mother, accompanied by a very sweet feeling of love and missing her. It was a moment where my whole body felt the memory – a memory of feeling safe and happy with my mom, who was nurturing, kind, supportive, and funny – a woman who loved to drink Folger’s coffee. When I was a child, I often walked with my mom over to our neighbors’ house, where she would visit with her friend and drink cup after cup of Folgers coffee. Sometimes, I got my own small serving of coffee, made especially delicious with a generous addition of milk and sugar. Today, almost 40 years later, the taste of the convenience store coffee tinged with the sweetness of hazelnut creamer, transported me into a state of loving remembrance.
This remembrance became an opportunity to practice meditation. Through the teachings and practices of Shambhava Yoga, I have come to understand that the quality of love and sweetness evoked in me (by the coffee and remembering the best of my relationship with my mother), is actually coming from a place within me. It’s within me all the time. One of the centering practices of the Vijnana Bhairava states “On joyously seeing a long lost friend, permeate this joy.” Remembering my long lost friend, my mom, became an opening to connect with the inner joy and sweetness that is always there. And I did. I breathed gently into the sweetness, and watched it expand a little. Soon, the tinge of sadness associated with the memory of my mom (who is no longer here to share coffee dates) melted away, and the sweetness remained. Now, that is really something. This is just one of the gifts of meditation practice. If a cup of convenience store coffee can lead you to bliss, what else might be possible? I can’t wait to find out.