Every so often a new word seems to capture our attention. Recently the term “mindfulness” has become trendy. It is, however, an integral part of our growing and always has been ever since the first time we fell as babies trying to walk. During the fifty days of Easter we will discuss this topic more thoroughly but today, the Beatitudes are calling us to be mindful and aware of the events in our own lives and how our response determines the chart we course in our being.
Throughout this series we have discussed cause and effect and attitude. We have compared our living to following a treasure map. We all are truly adventures on a quest for a better life, hopefully not only for ourselves but for all humanity. The paths we walk are not always the path we anticipated.
Born Deirdre Blomfield and later adding Brown to her name, the American Buddhist nun Ani Pema Chodron practices the Tibetan tradition through the Kagyu school and Shambhala tradition. She grew up in Connecticut and graduated from college at UC Berkley. She became a mother(and grandmother) and taught elementary school in California and New Mexico. On a trip in her later thirtie’s to France, she encountered
While in her mid-thirties, Deirdre traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. Soon her path led to her becoming a novice nun and then receiving full ordination with the name Ani Pema Chodron. Ani Pema served as the director of the Karma Dzong, in Boulder, CO, until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey.
I think this Western nun’s philosophy towards finding mindfulness in our own living is best summed up in her book titles: “Start Where You Are”; “Comfortable with Uncertainty”; “The Wisdom of No Escape – How to Love Yourself and Your World”; “Living Beautifully”. Her philosophy is simple, direct, and true: “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
To be mindful is simply, quite simply, to be aware. I referenced a baby learning to walk. The child will fall several times and yet, the wisdom in getting up and trying again is the key. We learn to walk not because of any first time success but because when we fall, we get back up and try again. With each unsuccessful attempt, we gain knowledge. We become aware. We learn to be mindful of how to balance and then take that first successful step. Blessed are the children who fall because they learn to get back up.
Nun and spiritual teacher Pema Chodron encourages us to view our world, being mindful of the lessons found in it. “The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. … If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” Then and truly then, will we become mindful in our own living.