Thursday, March 15, 2007


I never read just one book. I think I'm reading five right now. One is Pema Chodron's THE WISDOM OF NO ESCAPE. I thank Gary Hill for telling me to read her. Her books are short, simple and so full of good sense I'm feel an internal calm reading a short chapter each night. This book is a series of talks she gave during a month-long retreat at Gampo Abbey where she lives on Cape Breton Island at the eastern end of Nova Scotia. I have not been to the abbey but have been to Cape Breton and it is beautiful!

The most basic advice is to meditate by simply noting the out-breath while sitting quietly. Inevitably thoughts will crowd in, usually much sooner rather than later. When you pull yourself away a little you say to yourself "Thinking". Simply that. Not as if you're doing a bad job of meditating, not accusingly, simply recognizing this is what your mind is doing. And if you're like me -- like most people -- that's exactly what your mind wants to do. It does not want to relax and just notice the outbreath, or just be still. In fact, most people will say that it is the mind's job to think. Yes! of cousre it is. But one point of meditating is to see for yourself that the thinking mind is running along familiar tracks while another part can observe itself. That other part can choose to concentrate on the breath, or on whatever.

When one chooses to read an interesting book, s/he chooses to put that auto-thinking mind aside and pay attention to what the books says. Same goes for watching TV or a movie -- and for much else we do. But left to its own devices the mind goes along "thinking" abot first one thing and then another, randomly very often. A great many people fear letting the mind pause and just pay attention to the out breath. The random mind can be a tyrant, {this is me talking, not Pema Chodron] afraid to pause in its "thinking"t. Most of the time it's merely dwelling on the gunk of every day life ... and I mean gunk ... watch it for a while. How many times do you have to replay that bothersome conversation or wonder what to eat for dinner? How much have you missed in your daily life because the mind was doing it's tyranical chattering -- and you didn't see the just opened leaves or the pretty girl standing on the corner and didn't hear what someone said to you? "Thinking." What Pema Chodron goes on to say is probably wiser than just this; but noticing the "thinking" is a way to start. I have been trying to add a picture of Pema Chodron but tonight the scanner and blogger aren't cooperating. ... Well, I've got five books to dig into so I won't keep trying to solve the picture problem

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