#37 Don’t make gods into demons.
Pema: Don’t use these teachings and practices to strengthen your self-absorption.
When we take what we can most benefit from and idolize it, our ego can get in the way of our practice. In practice, we can get become preoccupied with every thought, sensation and feeling that emerges. This provides a temptation to give up the ship, so to speak.
Certainly in my own practice over the years I have had this occur. If I focus too much, then there is tension. Too little focus and the opposite is true. It is keeping the mind in balance is what I find works best.
Additionally, when we first start our practice, there is a sense of being nurtured with each breath, each repetition of a Metta phrase, or whatever we use as a meditation object in our practice. We feel proud of ourselves that we are making progress. Then, we hit a wall, and there is this overwhelming life challenge that blocks the way. In this opportunity for personal transformation, we become frightened of it and we feel tempted to back off.
As we may know, sitting with the discomfort eases the discomfort. I know this all too well. There have been times that I fought against sitting with my anger or deep sadness. But I did anyway, leading me to a deeper growth of spirit. I am the lotus blossoming.
What I have learned is to be compassionate toward myself. I can walk this path with gentleness and kindness, accepting and aware.
Pema Chödrön’s Compassion Cards – This practice is lojong (mind-training slogans) and they are powerful reminders on how to awaken our hearts. They are also found in “The Compassion Book.” You choose the cards at random, read the commentary, and then try to live by the meaning of the slogan throughout the day.