I have noticed from experience that taking things too seriously can be debilitating. It can paralyze us.
It is usually more effective to approach problems with a light heart – a willingness to laugh at them and at ourselves. Otherwise, if we are too somber, we could be stricken with a heart attack before we even have the chance to do anything to improve the situation! Instead, we can be playful. A sense of humor can be very helpful in preventing us from feeling stuck or overwhelmed by a difficult situation.
Especially if a situation is critical, you have to be able to approach it with some openness, just in order to see the possible solutions clearly. For example, sometimes there are serious issues that you feel you need to address, but that you cannot resolve. What do you end up doing? Worrying. There can also be serious issues that you actually can do something about. In those cases, too, if you are not careful, you may also find yourself worrying. Once you are overwhelmed by anxiety and other unhelpful emotions, it will be very difficult to plan or make clearheaded decisions. You will not be able to look beyond the obstacles to notice the opportunities.
The realization of the nature of the mind is not something we can find by searching for it from afar. It is present within the essence of the mind itself. If we do not alter or change that in any way, that is enough. It is not as if we were lacking something before, so we need to make something new through our meditation. It is not as if we are bad and have to go through all sorts of efforts to make ourselves good. Goodness is something we all have. It has always been with us, but we have just not looked for it or seen it yet, so we have become confused. Therefore all we need to do is to just rest within it without changing it. We see where it stays and rest there, so we are like a kusulu. This means that we rest free and easy with nothing to do, very simply. We do not need to think that we are making something good or that we need to meditate properly. It is enough just to know what we already have.
Hope and fear only exist because of each other, they only exist interdependently. Personally I find this very, very comforting. When I remember this, again and again, it is like being tired, going to bed, resting and recovering. Having this practice, knowing this, means we can relax, rejuvenate and then hopefully be able to follow the footsteps of our guru. Before we become a lion maybe we can become a nice puppy.
We do not have control over the arising of discursive thoughts. Discursive thoughts do not arise according to a schedule; they can and do arise at any time whatsoever. Exactly in accordance with that, meditation needs to be something which can and does arise at any time whatsoever. In other words, given that the arising of discursive thoughts is unscheduled, to have meditation which is liberating we need a meditation in which the arising of discursive thoughts comes together with the meditation, and the meditation comes together with the arising of discursive thoughts.
In the mahamudra tradition, the notion of self-liberation is paramount. Through self-liberating our conflicting emotions and discursive thoughts by allowing them to simply arise and dissipate without any grasping or fixation, we transcend any spiritual requirement to renounce, purify, or transform them. This is the unique skillful means of path mahamudra that inexorably leads to spiritual realization.
Meditation is really a process of nonjudgmental awareness.
I think pleasure and pain are born out of the same kind of background. Generally, people regard pain as bad and pleasure as good, so much so that pleasure is regarded as joy and spiritual bliss, and is connected with heaven, while pain is associated with hell. So if one is able to see the absurdity and irony of trying to achieve pleasure by rejecting pain, fearing extreme pain and so striving toward pleasure, it is all very funny. There is some lacking of sense of humor in people’s attitudes toward pleasure and pain.
Just look within to the virtuous thoughts you have had, and you will always find a reason to love yourself. Take joy in your sincere intentions. Everything starts with an intention. If you have been able to have beautiful aspirations, these aspirations will always be part of you, a beautiful part.
Perhaps you’re out on the street and see someone abusing a dog, beating it or yelling at it or yanking on its leash. You can breathe in the pain you assume the dog is feeling, then send out relief. It might be a wish for the dog to experience kindness and safety, even a nice, juicy bone. You can also breathe in what the abuser is likely to be feeling—the rage and confusion that are causing her to strike out so cruelly. Breathe in her anger and, on the out breath, send her anything you think would allow her heart to soften. It could be feeling loved, feeling okay about herself, feeling more space in her mind and more tenderness in her heart.
To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.