“These are the groundwork for working skillfully with The Hindrances- the 3 Bases of Skillful Action: Generosity, Commitments of Non-Harming and Meditation." Ajahn Thiradhammo, Working With the Five Hindrances, (pdf) pp. 37-38.
I have been keeping a Post-It Note of this close at hand; life has been playing big league hardball with me since late September 2021.
Crash Davis: “You know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. Twenty-five hits in 500 at-bats is 50 points, OK? There’s six months in a season. That’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week, just one, a gork, a ground ball — a ground ball with eyes! — you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”
“‘What I learned from this,’ my son wrote, in a phrase that my daughter appropriated for her essay as well, ‘is that a softball is not soft.’ Things are not what they seem, we all realized for an instant. The tiger can swoop down at any time. I did not say it to them, but to myself I repeated a somewhat different moral. The world plays hardball with us, I thought, and we are not in charge.” Mark Epstein
No matter which way I turned or who I asked for help to get through this, all directions and support have been some variation of “Be kind, be patient, take care of yourself. Pursue that which creates in you a sense of ease and inner peace."
I am only able to work on how I relate to what is happening, how I relate to my own being and how I relate to other beings. How I relate to what is happening may or may not help foster the outcome I desire. It will change whether I go through and come out without adding to the difficulties and pain I am in or that of others. Difficulties and pain that are physical, emotional or mental.
Generosity- Oh, Noble One: Understand that generosity is not just the giving of material aid. Generosity is also the giving of protection from fear and giving of truth of being. The origin of the word is immensely helpful- “From the Latin word generōsus, which means ‘of noble birth’. Generosity came increasingly to identify a nobility of spirit—that is, with various admirable qualities that depend not on family history but on whether a person possessed the qualities. In this way generosity increasingly came signify a variety of traits of character: courage, strength, gentleness, and fairness.”
Commitments of Non-Harming: This is my commitment to learn to stop my aggression (“to approach, address, attack”), whether self-directed or other directed. It will appear in the guise of non-acceptance, of non-allowing, of forcing. The source of the aggression is fear. Instead, could I use generosity? Could I offer protection from fear?
Meditation: I recently have adopted Mark Epstein’s personal definition, “Being with my own mind no matter what state it was in. Even while being buffeted from every possible direction.” It is Kalyāṇa-mittatā- the Buddhist concept of "admirable friendship" to oneself. This likewise “Being with another’s mind, no matter what state it is in. Even while being buffeted from every possible direction.” Could I be a generous friend here, too? Offering to hold the truth of being as it is right here, right now instead of approaching, addressing and attacking it?
“Through the practice of generosity, we begin to understand where we are closed, where we are holding back, where we feel our fear. We learn what keeps us from being generous. We take on the practice to see where we resist it.” Gil Fronsdal
When the Dalai Lama spoke of inner peace, he was talking about nonviolence rather than relaxation. Not only nonviolence in the outer world but also nonviolence in one’s inner world. Just as he had not urged me to jettison my sense of self, he was neither encouraging an empty mind nor recommending meditation simply as a form of rest and repose. He was asking us to use meditation to look into our minds and examine our behavior, to listen to the way we spoke to ourselves and thought about others, and to explore the attitudes we held in our most personal and private thoughts. From his perspective, inner peace is possible only when one has made peace with one’s own mind, when one’s own inner violence has been dealt with. This requires honesty and an internal ethic that is endlessly challenging. Inner peace comes not from turning off the mind, but from deliberately confronting one’s own innermost prejudices, expectations, habits, and inclinations. Meditation as stress reduction, as a way of calming the mind, does not address its mission to challenge, confront, befriend, and change one’s innermost mental attitudes. - Mark Epstein
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