Walking Saturday afternoon, I noticed this soft suffusion of feeling. Everything was alright, the things that I strive for are possible, I was feeling optimistic about the world. It dawned on me (at dusk) that I felt at peace.
How was this possible? On Friday night three of us had gone along to the Relaxation Centre to hear Venerable Robina Courtin speak on the topic of Courageous Compassion. While walking I had been reflecting on her down to earth style and the wisdom she showed in being able to communicate the Buddhist view so that I could see the absolute logic. I think that's why this philosophy becomes attractive - as you strive to know your own mind, as you question what is - you seem to come to similar conclusions as Buddha, or the Hindu thinkers 500 years before him and many other philosophers. The very act of thinking helps to keep your mind clear and steady. Robina encouraged us to "have the courage to own our rubbish (chaotic thoughts) and rejoice in our good stuff. BE DELIGHTED THAT YOU WANT TO DO THE WORK!"
How to know yourself? The first step is to do what your mother advised BEHAVE NICELY - "harness the energy of your mind and speech", often this translates into saying nothing and it certainly means not speaking ill of others whether they're around or not - the grossness of gossip. The second step is concentration meditation or mindfulness, which Robina fabulously describes as a "SOPHISTICATED, BRILLIANT, GENIUS SKILL", that for her is always difficult. It is hard inner work that will reconfigure your mind beyond the "berserk thinking" and eventually allow effortless control over every thought.
The other idea that caught my attention were her ideas about the basis for making decisions. "You have to be brave to do and say the right thing. Ask yourself:
Would that be useful for me to know my mind?
Will that help me to become a better person?
Would that be helpful to someone else?"
I was delighted with Robina's suggested morning intention (mantra) to help with decisions "MAY I DO WHAT'S MOST BENEFICIAL". Also grateful that she had been a catalyst for that feeling of peace, which I can still tap into days later. Venerable indeed! Peace be with you.