Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Wisdom of Sex and The City...

Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future,
stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we 
want, and just see what happens. 

I culled this from my sisters Facebook profile, it's a quote from Sex and the City, a programme I haven't seen much of. So I'm going to comment on the quote completely out of context, just as an example of common wisdom.

As always - the right wisdom for the right time: I remember reading in one of Jack Kornfield's book, a quote from his teacher, who said, when being criticised about giving teachings which seemed to contradict each other "When the student strays too far to the left, direct them to the right. When they stray too far to the right, direct them to the left."

If you are stuck in the cycle of endless analysing of the past, without coming to any new insight, or obsessively planning the future and clinging to those plans, like a man at sea clinging to a life raft, the practice of stopping can be a wonderful thing.  Whenever I catch sight of myself behaving or thinking in this kind of frenetic way a moment of stopping, and seeing what happens can be just the right thing.

Sometimes it's possible to say "stop" or "just let go" but this can seem like an impossible task. As a Pureland Buddhist I make an offering of these thoughts and feelings to the Buddha and in this offering, with the help of the Buddha, am able to let these thoughts go completely.

If, on the other hand, you are the sort of person who always goes with the flow, and just sees what happens (and I'm guilty of this too, sometimes) perhaps what you need to do in these moments is to do some active reflection.  Going with the flow can just be another way of saying, "habitual action". In English the word meditate means to think upon something, and in the Buddhist teaching the first of the meditations called the Jhana's is 'directed thought'.  Looking honestly at what has occurred, and at what might occur in the future is an important part of spiritual practice. Asking oneself are ones actions skilful?

Broadly there are two types of meditation in Buddhism. Insight meditation in which one looks honestly at one's own life, and situation and peaceful or calming meditation, in which one's mind becomes still.  Sometimes stopping is the right thing to do. Sometimes thinking is the right thing to do.

Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future...Sometimes we need to start analyzing the past, planning the future...

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