May 30, 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – day 30
shop shelf copper-tone Buddha, wearing his price-tag on his sleeve
tiny flowers, showing to the world the Original Face of their True Nature
Joy in Everyday Life
As we make our journey of meditation, as we settle the mind, we start to shift from, “What about me?”—that self-indulgent, or self-preoccupied orientation, that seems so natural, that’s even encouraged by our society, our social values. We start to relax that. We start to settle, and notice the world around us, and ask a different kind of question, which is, “What about you? What about others? What about the world?” And that kind of change in our orientation is a natural by-product of our meditation practice. It naturally emerges from a settled mind to notice the world around us, and to begin to actually care.
Formally, in classical teachings that come from the Buddhist tradition, this is discussed as a transition from the hinayana, the “narrow vehicle,” the vehicle that is concerned with relieving our own suffering, that is concerned with working directly with the agitated mind, and helping to settle it, so that we could find some kind of relief. And, actually, so many people now come to meditation practice for exactly that,—for stress reduction, for a relief from individual agitation and suffering, mental suffering, that we add onto whatever is happening in our present experience.
But actually, meditation is much bigger than that, and evolves into what is called the mahayana, the “greater vehicle.” And it’s greater because there’s a concern for other, that our basic practice shifts from simply being to relieve our own pain, to actually noticing the pain of others and wanting to relieve that.
So the “great” in “the greater vehicle” refers to our motivation—that we have a larger viewpoint, that we actually are inspired to benefit others, benefit all sentient beings. And that’s a pretty radical shift, actually: to see that meditation practice isn’t just about making a better life for ourselves. Although it does that, it does help relieve the tremendous amount of chaos that we ourselves generate in relation to what happens in our life. But that actually we could practice and make our spiritual journey about other people, about serving this world and making this world a better place. So that is the inspiration of the mahayana.
…We have an analogy for this shift, this natural evolution in our meditation practice and spiritual path. And that analogy is the snow lion. The snow lion is an emblem of Tibet. It’s a mythical creature, said to have white fur, and this beautiful turquoise mane that flourishes in the mountain air, in the mountain breeze. The perch of the snow lion is the craggy mountain peak, and so we have this image of vast open space. If you can imagine yourself either in the highland meadows of Tibet or even the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, what you get is these amazing vast open vistas. This comes from a bigger view, a mind-set that isn’t wrapped up in petty self-preoccupation, but actually looking out at the world, and being concerned.
And this brings tremendous fresh air, the fresh mountain air that invigorates us. And it’s said that the snow lion, this mythical creature, follows the fragrances in the scented mountain air. So, an image of amazing delight that comes from a bigger view, a bigger view that is willing to be touched by the joys and sorrows of this world. An awakened heart that is beating in response to a bigger vision. So that’s the analogy we’ll be working with and exploring.
—Shastri Holly Gayley, PhD.
Buddhist meditation teacher
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder