Daishin has a nice post today about expanding your awareness, and watching the way you label experience. The first paragraph resonated with me a lot.
In her book Seeking peace: chronicles of the worst buddhist in the world, psychologist Mary Pipher chronicles her ”polite breakdown” when, after many years of building a successful career of helping others and a happy marriage, everything fell apart. Something in the healer broke. Then, somewhere along the road toward wholeness, she recalls a scene in the movie Jaws where the big bad shark suddenly rears up behind the little boat and the captain shouts “We need a bigger boat.”
Yes! Yes! I feel this right now. I have spent years working in Adult Basic Education, making connections, doing advocacy work with my students, training myself to be a better, more diversely skilled teacher. For almost a year, I worked to build a healthy, lasting relationship with a wonderful woman and her two children. I've spent years dedicated to my sangha, volunteering hours of my time, sitting and walking and bowing and chanting and studying hours and hours with my sangha brothers and sisters.
And when I sit with all of this right now in my life, there's a cracking open going on, a standing at a crossroads kind of experience going on that's kind of scary to be honest.
Of the three, my relationship with my sangha is probably most stable - whatever that might mean. I just feel like how I'm relating to the practice, and to the community, is shifting somehow, in ways I can't label right now.
The other two situations seem to have broken wide open, pointing me towards the need for a bigger boat, or reminding me that too close of an identification with careers, or relationships, or even one's root sangha is a road of suffering. By "identification," I mean viewing who you are through the lens of work, or relationship, or sangha, or even all three of them.
You can be completely intimate with a lover, with work, with a sangha, and yet still see that your life is vaster than all of it. You can look into any one of these situations and see the vastness of the universe expressed within it.
I've experienced both of these. But those experiences have been fleeting. The boat I've been working with is too small. Or it's that the boat I "see" is too small. Because mostly, I'm get tangled in identifying with, or trying not to identify with, various parts of my life.
How's your boat these days?
*Cool boat, eh? You can read more about it here.