Lying in bed, I realized that I was either just waking up or still inside some kind of dream. In the dream–let’s call it that–I was contemplating three statements that I felt were worth remembering. So I pulled back the covers and swung my feet onto the dark floor.
Ever since my dogs–chasing after a Husky on the other side of a gravel road– pulled me off my feet a few months ago and I sprained the hamstring of my left leg–I’ve been aware of the muscles called upon to carry out actions such as swinging out of bed.
Even before my feet were on the floor, I realized that the mists of my recent dreamscape were dispersing before the winds of my start-of-day intentions, and I tried to hold on to the dream content that had got me out of bed in search of pen and paper. This is what I wrote down:
1/ Understand what’s important for you;
2/ Work on embodying that understanding in how you live;
3/ Share this understanding with others.
I can’t say for certain that these were the exact statements that surfaced in my “dream”, but if they were, I should check in with the concierge of sleep more often. These perspectives resonate with the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path whose steps (or notes in a cosmic octave) have three main divisions: Wisdom (vision and intention), Embodiment (speech, action, livelihood), and Integration (the mindful, concentrated integrity of our lives, most fully exemplified in acts of sharing).
I imagine that we all feel opposing tugs from inside and outside and try to find ways to integrate the two. Like Sisyphus we seem condemned to be haunted by visions of a finer world while we struggle to get by in this one.
The concept of “balance” is important in Buddhist teachings. Balance, along with compassion, loving kindness, and joy, is at the heart of everything–beyond consciousness or behavior, beyond any individual attribute or potential attainment. These qualities cannot be constructed or achieved. They are universal and integral, just as earth, air, water, and fire are inherent to embodiment on Planet Earth.
To be born a human comes with the capacity to understand our own human being. And the world’s spiritual traditions, whatever they advocate in the realm of behavior, always provide tools for helping us to steer through the reefs of desire, fear and confusion.
But, Houston, there is a problem. In the orbit of our lives, we seem to have been launched with a few powerful thrusts that have left us coasting out here; while the steering wheel that we grip so fiercely can feel like a child’s toy unconnected to the drive train that keeps us moving forward.
But my dream comes back and a question remains. Is there anything that actually prevents us from understanding what is important, trying to live in the light of that understanding, and being willing to share this light with others? Perhaps there is still time to follow our dreams.
If we ourselves are windows into the eternal and the infinite, who exactly is there to get old?
If loving kindness, joy, caring about our world and those with whom we share it, and appreciation for the balance that allows us to sink into the creation–like water pouring into water–then we won’t ever have to stake out a private plot or file a deed of ownership. What is universal and integral throughout all experience is beyond ownership. We may forget it, but we can never lose it, any more than the rain can turn into sand.
I posted a comparable blog on April 19, 2016 (“Balance is a Movement in Time and Space”) which drew forth thoughtful words of understanding from Michelle, Hayward, and Loretta: