Monday, January 23, 2012

The Space Between

While spinning, I am very aware of the times when things become unpleasant . . . 

Another request from the instructor to turn the knob one more notch. Another long climb. Another song, not on my list of favorites. It does not take much for the mind to start its habitual number. "Oh, no, this is tough, I don't like it, I can't wait for more fun moments." Throat and stomach tighten, and off I am thinking about work awaiting at home, or the next trip to Paris, or last night's dream, etc. Anything but right now. 
The teaching of dependent arising [. . .] shows us the cause and effect that exist within and outside of us. [. . .] Within that cycle there is one doorway through which we can step out, namely, the space between feeling and craving. All the other steps of dependent arising are automatic causes and effects. Unless we learn to live with unpleasant and pleasant feelings, without wanting to get rid of the one or keeping and renewing the other, we don't have access to that doorway - we continue to circle in samsara over and over again. Our training leads us to equanimity as the pinnacle of all emotions, so that our feelings no longer get the better of us. As long as we are victims of our feelings and our emotions, we are not really free. 
~ Ayya Khema, in When the Iron Eagle Flies ~

"Getting ready to head back to the Y." Joel signals the sweet ending of his class. Mind sighs with relief, at the well earned pleasure of  taking it easy after a hard class. Precarious happiness . . . 

Each time, an opportunity to practice stepping out through the doorway, the space between feeling, whether pleasant or unpleasant, and craving or aversion. 


  1. Do you notice that one thinks of aversion in any instance, it always based on our own aversion?...never taking into account anyone else's pain? Surely it is hard to bust out of our self's concern. But we can try, opening up a small crack in our hard shell to let compassion in. Hopefully it will grow, the ability to put ourselves on the back burner will become easier.

  2. Yes, Albert, I, I, I, I, I, I . . . The mind really spends too much time of the subject of I! It is getting old. And agree, that all the unnecessary dukkha is tied to that notion. Whenever the mind turns to something else, there is such a sense of relief, or expansion.

  3. Why, after walking through the doorway, do I so quickly turn around and walk right back out? Just have to keep at it, I guess.