New Year, New Me. This year I have three primary aspirations:
1. Observe the fruits of practice
On October 15th, 2013 I was ordained into the Order of Interbeing, the core lay community of Thich Nhat Hanh, and given the practice name “True Garden of Faith.” No one is quite sure how names are chosen (except those who choose), but it is generally accepted that your name is an assignment, an indication of how you can grow in your practice of mindfulness, of understanding, of love.
Faith, as defined in The Art of Power, is confidence born from observing the fruits of practice.
Let’s break it down:
Observing: Shining light on what is occurring without judgment, without expectation. Steadily bringing attention back over and over and over to decipher what is truly there.
Fruit: What is a fruit of practice? Insight; a deep understanding into the true nature of some thing. Insight can arrive in many forms…sometimes it is witnessed as an integration, a synthesis of distinct experiences into a unified whole. Sometimes it is an unfolding, a breaking down of something once rigid. Sometimes it is both; other times neither.
Practice: What is practice? Well, our whole life when it comes down to it. But for the purposes of this year, I will focus on aspiration #2 and #3.
It bears highlighting that the nature of this faith is not blind. Nor is it a faith of what one has been told or of other people’s experience. This faith is born from the direct experience of observing the fruits of my own practice, moment to moment.
2. Weekly Gatha
A gatha is a short poem. Gathas can relate to daily activities, and help to remind us of the beauty available in paying attention to seemingly ordinary moments with full attention. For example, you could recite a simple gatha when you wake up in the morning:
Waking up this morning I smile
A brand new day is before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion
Being present in everyday activities is a state of calm, which allows the mind space & energy to develop insight. There is a box set “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment” which is a collection of 52 gathas from Thich Nhat Hanh on nicely designed cards, which you can put up around your house in places you often look. There are gathas for brushing your teeth, driving a car, eating, turning on the computer, and much more.
I will practice with these cards, using one gatha per week, for the duration of the year.
3. Investigate link between decision-making, rumination, and depression
Two years ago I set an intention to bring acceptance to areas of personal difficulty. From this process a source of persistent suffering was unearthed: a downward spiral while struggling with decision-making, rumination, and depression. I have come to witness the potential for these three interrelated elements to wreck havoc on well-being.
Thus far I’ve been fairly timid in approaching this head-on, as at times I feel embarrassed to admit when I’m feeling low. Yet I repeatedly find that the extent to which I’m able to welcome in suffering with the open heart of Rumi’s Guesthouse, is the extent to which suffering transforms. For this aspiration I will:
-Embark on an MBCT course along with the book The Mindful Way Through Depression
-Reflect in the form of an in-depth writing to be published some day (titled ‘Maximizer Manifesto’)
When I ordained into the Order of Interbeing it was alongside a group of about 40 others, and collectively we were part of the “True Garden” family. I have little experience gardening, but know it takes patience to do well. Seeds are planted in one season and fruits may ripen in another. Some plants require diligence and careful nourishment before they reveal themselves fully.
This year I will provide nourishment for my seed of faith; let’s see what grows!