Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disentangling the Tangle.

Uncovering the  Subtleties of Real Forgiveness with Ruth Denison.

In preparation for retreat with Ruth Denison's retreat, I have been rereading her biography, 'Dancing in the Dharma: The Life and Teachings of Ruth Denison'

This particular teaching of Ruth (to Sandy Boucher, her student, and also the author of Ruth's biography), on forgiveness, really resonates with me:
You know, forgiving, you have to understand what it means. It means you don't carry your pain around, your aversion against. Your disapproval, you don't carry that around anymore . . . One big rule in the Buddhist Dharma is to not take the feelings as your guideline. They are coming from 'I', what 'I' like. They go along what the ego says. And that is the danger . . . You cannot go to your feelings. Feelings are the turning point. In the twelve links, first comes this this this this, rebirth consciousness, contact then with the object of the experiences of consciousness, then comes 'feeling', Number Seven. And if you don't catch it there you go into craving: liking, wanting, and craving. And in this case it is, 'My feelings say this, I now go along with my feelings for what is pleasant in this way, for what isn't bothersome.' . . . 
Now if you really want to let go, you make an act where you see yourself taking it up as a challenge, for your breaking through this resistance, or this kind of holding, clinging to my feeling . . . I give you in Buddha's words, 'Cling not to well-being. In pain are you not perturbed, even-minded in all chances, that is the task.' Equanimity. Equanimity is the second wing of enlightenment. The other one is wisdom. And equanimity means actually on the higher level of focusing, noninterference. Not with the ego in any way. Equanimous in all chances, that is the path. You don't go with the feelings. And I see that in me, with that incident I told you. I do see the way that person acted is unpleasant to me and irritating, hmm? But I am aware that I am not acting upon it when I am together with the person, I know that I don't need to contaminate my mind with it and I don't hang on to it, but it's still there, it is floating and it comes. The Buddha says it is natural to all of us, this clinging. Our actions are like fingers to us, the fingers don't go that way" (she opens her hands away from her). "The fingers go always with me" (she curls the fingers inward). "The rake comes this way and always to me." . . . So you go now to more active loving . . . 
When you are conscious, you break through a lot of attachment to like and dislike. You now stay through that discomfort, stay faithful to what the experience is in you. Your irritation says, 'I want her other than she is'. According to my like right now, see? This feeling arises with each experience, and the thing is always to go to 'your experience'. In this case, you want her other, you see that, then you see there is a point of wanting her other. Your training is now to detach from 'I like' and 'I want it other than it is.' That's the clue. That is depth of Dharma now. Become more refined, and see more your experience rather than her behavior that irritates you . . . 
After I married, my sponsor was very bad to me, but I gave him each week one full day to clean his house, as a gratitude for help me come to America. He did something good to me. And that goodness is lasting, because I'm still here, hmm? You learn through every hard time, you learn through everything, through goodness or difficulty. So if you want to do justice to your heart, you have to do justice not just through words but through this good deed which came to you and which was a big steppingstone and a great shift in your life, and sometimes small, doesn't matter, one should always have available appreciation for what was done good. And even not for you maybe so good, but for the person who gave you that goodness . . . 
It is important that 'you' cut deeper into 'your' system, so that you have a better, clear discernment: what is my path here in this situation. 'Cling not to well-being,' not giving the karma the next level to act out . . . Now you see the immensity of the Dharma, how it opens up in your consciousness. You know, the Dharma in response to a poem was written down. The poem was 'The world is so entangled, who can disentangle the tangle?' When you see it first you don't see the tangle. At first you thought you understood. Now you look backwards and see how you have to disentangle the tangle. Here a little more friendliness, here a little bit more forgiving, here a little bit more alertness and seeing a different view, and that view, and so on. It comes by stretching and pulling apart this faculty called attention. It becomes then conscious attention, it becomes concentrated attention, it becomes penetrating aspects of one thing called 'my anger' or 'my resentment.' Nothing, we work with nothing, but we work with life, and that is all."
Disentangling the tangle . . . welcoming every opportunity to practice and purify heart and mind. Family life is great that way. This morning, I watched aversion come in as loved one was being difficult. And following Ruth's lead, I was able to turn focus on aversion itself, not the person's behavior. It also helped to get some Twitter validation:

@minddeep: imperfect interactions w/family members represent huge opportunities to practice equanimity, love, #mindfulness - as just now :)
@sunada @MindDeep Ram Dass (I think) said, "If you think you're enlightened, spend a week with your family."
@minddeep @sunada better than monastery!

Realizing once more that the real problem is inside, not outside


  1. you have an awesome blog

  2. Thank you... this post has been more of a signpost for me, this morning... helping me see my conclusions are in fact realizations.


  3. Dear Marguerite, thank you for your generous sharings..Im learning with you...that´s so fine. Here a few thoughts to this and your previous post.

    Equanimity!...TY again...just a nice and helpful word, to me it means an aspect of base, means our interconnectedness, our oneness, our interbeing, my God or another word: Awareness. That which does not change.

    Yes, feelings come and go as thoughts do and body sensations and sounds and images..when I feel that I get down I have three P´s - I just discovered :-) reflecting about your posts..

    Prayer, Practice and above all Patience.

    wishing you & everyone
    a great great time
    with Ruth Denison & all,


  4. Thank you both for partaking in this forgiveness feast!

    Doris, I like your three P's. I have a similar, albeit much longer list whenever a difficult situation presents itself: mindfulness, equanimity, effort, wisdom, gratitude, compassion, and loving kindness. I have found it does take all these qualities to live such moments with grace.

    With metta,