Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Roads

Today, Gil expanded on the topic of intention, this time addressing choices we make not just in the long run, but also moment to moment. Here are my notes - talk was videotaped, so you should be able to view it very soon:
The teachings of the Buddha frequently refer to the two directions we can choose at any moment: either skillful or unskillful. This supposes we understand what is most beneficial. How de we meet every situation? Gil read following poem from Robert Frost:
'The Road Not Taken'
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  

We always have the choice between two options: to go further into the woods and get more entangled, or to take the road less traveled. Most people choose the first one. We can have people walk the path with us, but eventually, we are the only one who can walk the path. No one can do it for us. There is a poignancy in all the choices we make, including small ones. Analogy of two parallel lines. If one nudges one even slightly, in the long run it can result in the big difference in direction. We can have a role in where our life is going, and the choices we make. How we meet each moment and circumstances.
I shared dream I had with Gil:
I am in a clothing store, shopping with my daughter. In a room off to the side, I find an installation with, on the surface some flint stones with chiseled hooks at the end. I examine them, one by one. The stones are resting on a large black circular rock. I lift the rock and find another smaller black rock underneath. The whole thing is resting on a huge, light colored rock, most of it buried under the ground. On the right, there are also some fragments of a large female Buddha, made out of green marble. Only the face and the hands are visible. 
I ask Gil about persistent weight in my stomach, that shows up every time I sit. Should I keep paying attention to it, or should I ignore it? Weight feels like black stone in my dream. The stone hooks make me think of various clingings I have been examining. Gil wonders how I feel about the huge rock in my dream. I like the solidity, and the vastness. Gil suggests I do not turn away from unpleasantness in the stomach. There is something there for me to learn. I need to stay with it, and experience it within wider context. It may be an important step towards feeling greater compassion for others.

Grateful for teacher who can help me make skillful choices, as here in where to place attention during meditation.


  1. Great post. I love the sense of mystery and ethereal quality carried in this post. And I love this poem. Yes, it has been my experience also that a teacher that can help us make choices when the way is not clear can be very helpful. We get to see how that works, the suggestions they make and then we get better at making them on our own.

    A line of the poem that speaks to me particularly is:
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.
    This rings so true and reminds me that we are always moving from a new vantage point, from where we are now.

  2. Walking with you along the path today, I thank you for the gift of your sharing, and your spiritual friendship. A most beautiful gift indeed!

  3. Hello - I just found out about your including me in your list of 15 Buddhist women's blogs - I'd wondered about what increased my traffic. I feel honored and grateful. I'm also glad to discover your blog, and several others I didn't know. It is nice how this effort on your part has created more community.
    Jeanne (Dalai Grandma)

  4. Wonderful to hear from you! Your increased traffic may also be due to your inclusion in Elephant Journal's recent article on Great Women Buddhist Bloggers of 2009 :)