“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Anne Lamott
I knew there wouldn’t be many people at our sangha last Sunday. I heard from at least seven of our regular company that they wouldn’t be there. As for the rest, there was the cold, the dark, the impending Oscar ceremony. Yet it didn’t really matter because I drove down in the spirit of a lighthouse keeper, a keeper of the keys to the yoga studio where we meet, a lighter of candles, a maintainer of a place of refuge. I didn’t go for personal ego gratification. I went to sit there shining.
To my delight, four noble friends came in from the cold and joined me. As we meditated, I realized that each one of us had come for something besides our own comfort, that when we sit down together, we practice a different way of being. When we practice Vipassana or Insight meditation, we practice a double movement: there is a movement of return to the breath, a movement of recollection of presence, of samadhi—and there is a movement of mindfulness, of allowing everything to be just as it is. Last Sunday, I realized that the movement of return can also be a movement of allowing, of self-forgiveness. All the prodigal sons and daughters of our thoughts and dreams and gnarly little complexes are welcome to come to the feast of this present moment.
Our sitting led naturally to talk of Wise Intention, the second step on the 8-fold Path. The Buddha explained Wise Intention as threefold: renunciation or letting go—the opposite of always desiring things to go our way; good will; and harmlessness. I read a bit of an article that sited research showing that critical book reviews and critical people are often perceived to be more perceptive and intelligent than positive reviews and attitudes. Yet whom would you rather be around? What is really more intelligent, awake?
This week, if you wish, join us as we begin to observe our attitudes and motivations. What attitude do you sit down with? Notice how awake and aware an attitude of letting go, harmlessness, good will can make you feel.