The Season for Mindfulness

December 25, 2010

I wish you all the best of the season!  However, I do know that for many of us, this season can be anything but merry.

The challenges of these holiday times can severely add to the stress of our lives.   I personally find these holiday times a bit manipulative–we are supposed to have fun and celebrate.  The cynical part of me begins to build up much resentment.

When my cynical voice starts, it is subtle, if not intoxicating.  How my ego and pride love the tone of my cynical voice!  When I start down this path, I know I have to increase my mindfulness, bring awareness to the voices talking in my head and let them go.  I know I have to invite myself with even more loving kindness to ground myself in mindfulness, practice compassion for myself and for others.  ‘Tis always the season for mindfulness, but even more so during these holiday times.

Since it is Christmas today, I have been thinking about the teachings of the Christ and the wisdom these teachings hold.  (One of the attractive qualities I celebrate about Buddhism is its inclusiveness of the wisdom of other spiritual paths, including the teachings of Jesus, Hinduism, Sufism…)

As I began to think about writing this journal entry, I have been drawn to my copy of the Gnostic Bible (Ed. Barnstone & Meyer) and in particular “The Gospel of Thomas.”  In reading through the Gospel, I came across the following passage, one of Jesus’ teachings that struck me as particularly relevant for those of us in recovery.  Jesus exclaims:

I took my stand in the midst of the world,

and I appeared to them in flesh.

I found them all drunk

yet none of them thirsty.

My soul ached for the human children

because they are blind in their hearts

and do not see.

They came into the world empty

and seek to depart from the world empty.

But now they are drunk.

When they shake off their wine, they will repent.

The passage reminds me of how in mindful mediation, we can, like Jesus, take our stand in the midst of the world–no matter how chaotic the world may be–and realize that we do not need to be drunk without thirst.  We need not take ourselves away from the world through the chaos of drinking/drugging, or through other unmindful behaviours such as anger, resentment, comparison, envy…

In this sense, the drunkenness and wine referred to in the passage can also be seen metaphorically in that they are negative emotions that make us “drunk,” intoxicated with ego, pride, and general ill will.

Interestingly, in this passage when Jesus says “They came into the world empty / and seek to depart from the world empty,” he  reminds us of one of the core principle of Buddhism that is expressed in The Heart Sutra: “form is emptiness; emptiness is form.”  After all, what is it we can carry with us into the physical world that we can also take with us when we leave the physical world?  Nothing but our souls.

If we are all one, as the Buddha, Ram and Christ tell us, then we truly are “empty,” and it is our soul that we have when we “stand in the midst of the world.”  Let us bring mindfulness to our souls, cherishing, nourishing and extending our loving souls to others to celebrate the joy that is in us that can also exist on this earth while we travel on it for the limited time that is given to each one of us as a precious gift.

May you be blessed in your recovery, healing–and in your giving.

Thank you for reading this.