This Is Only the Beginning

It is a delightful thing, to stare at cherry tree blossoms in the middle of a blizzard, to see the likeness of the petals and the snowflakes, to watch spring and winter tease each other with their most profound beauty. This is how I began my morning.

Experiencing the world directly, like letting the mind fall into itself, takes lifetimes of practice. But beauty and happiness as we commonly think of them are not prerequisites for this experience. As enamored as I was with the dance of spring and winter, as peaceful and open as I felt – the same experience can occur spontaneously in the face of terror or pain. Furthermore, direct experience of the true nature of things can occur while pumping gas at an Exxon-Mobile. The point being that the possibilities for enlightenment are endless.

As human beings, we are fortunate enough to experience glimpses of this wherever we are. I have spent the past two days in retreat studying how to cultivate this experience through the practice of Guru-Yoga and Mahamudra meditation. Suddenly my practice has broadened and my respect for the dharma has deepened. It will take effort to continue on this path but I am inspired, and my confidence has grown.

I mean it when I say that eating ice cream and breaking a bone boil down to the same essence. I believe that in their truest forms, suffering and joy, depression and elation – all the emotions – are one and the same. Over time glimpses of this accumulate, like toothpicks (to use Jay’s analogy). Eventually, we will use those toothpicks to push aside the boulder that represents all the obstacles on the path to enlightenment.

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