On this first day of the year, I felt like going to the source, again.
Going to Leigh's website for his curated list of suttas, I settled on the first one on the list, and let the words do their work on me . . .
From the Potthapada Sutta, on States of Consciousness, this time, I got the following:
Living in this world as I am is a challenge to practice. The alternative of going forth with the contemplative life is there. Reading the suttas, one cannot help but be tempted. Indeed, the household life is crowded, a path of dust. Going forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. And, the reality is, it is not so easy going forth nowadays, particularly for a woman!
Next is the pursuit of moral discipline. I can always use a reminder about right speech. To not engage in false speech, divisive speech, abusive speech, or idle chatter, is not easy to do consistently. Most helpful I have found, is to remember the inevitable karmic consequences from such action. Of course, mindfulness is the best protection.
Guarding the senses door, I take as an invitation to take all sensory experiences with a grain of salt. Carrying with me, Ajahn Chah's image of the wilted flower. Nothing to be enthralled by. Instead appreciating what each moment brings, and leaving it at that, not grasping for more.
Mindfulness of all activities is such an underrated practice. Many times, I have stated the intention of bringing mindfulness into my every day life, consistently from dawn to dusk. Many times, I have not followed through. Only during retreats, have I been able to carry through. For now, I shall settle with good intentions and the appreciation for those times throughout the day when I remember to be mindful.
Being content with what I have or less even, is another goal worth exploring this year. I rely upon so many outer conditions for my most basic sense of well-being. Good food, preferably of the organic kind; enough money in the bank to protect from future hardships; the ability to spin every day at the Y; a warm home, I don't like to be cold; this computer and my iPhone, God forbid something happened to those precious possessions! decent looks, it's easy saying I don't care about those, as long as nature is good to me; the list goes on . . .
Abandoning the hindrances is the next thing on the list, right before the chance to dwell in the first Jhana . . . It's been quite a ride, noticing the hindrances and exploring ways to set them aside. Anxiety, anger, boredom, depression, envy, and grief, take turns to challenge mind and heart with their share of misery. The big lesson I learned is to not get lost into the objects of such states, but rather to see them for what they are, unwholesome fabrications of the mind, to be ridden of without question.
What is your take?