Recently, while sitting at my desk looking over a hefty to do list, I felt a bit weary, even though there was nothing on the list I objected to doing and was actually looking forward to doing some of what was on there.
Suddenly I became aware of a voice that said something that made me pause. “No matter how hard you try, you are never going to meet your ultimate goal to wake up and end suffering.”
It seemed to imply that waking up and ending suffering was something else to add to a to do list. It could have easily slipped by — especially as the very next thought was, “Oh, that’s just conditioned mind.”
Really? Is that so? Blessedly, somewhere along the path I had heard the guidance to question everything. This habit of questioning is powerful and prompted me to pick up my small handheld recorder and make a recording. (Always keeping the recorder within arm’s reach makes the whole process much easier.) The D folder is my go-to place on the recorder for anything that will be fodder for my Daily R/L Date with the Mentor. This was exciting! It felt like I’d caught a tiger by the tail.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my R/L practice is the use of compassionate inquiry. A recent Project Joy assignment expressed this perfectly: “Today, notice what lies you’ve been taught to believe are facts. Ask yourself regularly throughout the day, “Is that true? How do I know that’s true?” Each time you ask yourself this question, turn on the recorder and record your response. Reminder: If you hear a negative rant along the lines of, “Of course that’s true!” you can know you’re not listening to the wisdom, love, and compassion animating you.”
So I decided to try this out with the current story conditioning was telling me.
Is it true that no matter how hard I try I will never wake up and end suffering? “No.” How do I know that’s not true? “I am meeting that goal right now in this present moment. There is no forever and ending suffering is a process not content.” That felt good and true.
The Mentor added this: “How do you react whenever you are believing the lie that you are never going to meet this goal?” My response was, “With self-criticism and feelings of hopelessness and despair.” The Mentor then asked, “How would it be to let this tiger go?” “I replied, “It would be relaxing and kind, and I would be grateful for what has been seen.”
Ah. I come back to knowing that ending suffering is a process.
Keep your recorder within arm’s reach wherever you go. Whenever a worrisome, anxiety provoking, or fearful thought arises, grab that tiger by the tail and catch it on the recorder. In your next R/L session/date with the Mentor, practice using this inquiry to look and see what is possible. Experience for yourself the wisdom, love, and compassion animating you.