The final Sunday of the month tends to bring about a sense of reflection, a sense of self-evaluation on the events of the weeks gone by. It also tends to bring a sense of anticipation, of expectation, of looking ahead to the month to come, and the work that remains to be done. But this sense of reflection does not need to just belong to months and weeks… we can coalesce the sense of time into days, then hours, then minutes, and then moments.
The awareness of the moment is perhaps the greatest “work” that remains before us. This has been very beautifully elucidated by Pema Chodron in her book, Living Beautifully (with Uncertainty and Change). I had bought this book a few months, maybe a year ago ~ I don’t exactly remember, and it doesn’t really matter. As is my wont with new and shiny books, I read it for a bit, maybe a few pages, but the “timing” for a deep dive wasn’t really right. And so it sat in one of my many bookcases, with all my other books to be read at the “right” time.
“You can buy as many books as you want… but you will only read the ones you are supposed to!” – Swami Vivekananda
The time arrived earlier this week, as Pema Chodron invited me back to “Living Beautifully”. And so, the “work” began in earnest, in the form of three steps… to “be present”, to “feel your heart”, to “engage the next moment without an agenda”. These three steps, referred to as commitments, are designed to create awareness, opennness and engagement. The practice of these, at a level beyond the mental, may seem like a lot of “work” at the outset. But we are all engaged in some kind of work, so why not engage in “work” that will produce (spiritual) “wealth” for us?
What is this “wealth” that the work of the first commitment, awareness, can produce for us? When we pause, take a step away from the opposites of hope and fear, we can learn to be “in the flow” of awareness. Osho refers to it as “observing the observer”, or just being. For that matter, we can pick any pair of opposites that tend to define our lives – success and failure, pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, and so on. The work of awareness can give us freedom from our clinging to these opposites of life. We gain the wealth that comes from saying to ourselves, to those around us, and to the universe. Here I am. No labels. No judgements. No past or present. Just me.
The second commitment, feeling the heart, flows from the “Here I am” awareness. The “work” in this step is to open our inner self, our heart and spirit, to those around us. We open our heart to feel the light of their consciousness. We open ourselves to their joy, their pain, their needs – it is the work of compassion. Of course, when we do this “heart work”, we take a chance that we will perhaps open too much, or open to those who don’t “deserve” to be open to, or those who have intent to cause hurt and harm to us. That is where awareness, the first step, comes into play. We need not abandon our awareness when feeling the heart. We do the heart work gently, in layers, like the gradual opening of a flower in bloom.
Does the flower that comes into bloom, even for a very short time, have an engagement agenda? The third commitment, engaging the moment without agenda, is perhaps the epitome of “work”. When we master the first and second steps, we are perhaps two-thirds of the way “there”. Or maybe only halfway there to the attainment of true, lasting wealth. I guess the measure of our “progress” depends on our starting point. Some of us may need a lot more “work” to master the first two steps, before we can do useful work to engage without agenda. This step reminds me of the Indian philosophical exhortation ~ “work without motive, without being attached to the fruits of your labors”. It’s a tough hill to climb, for even the most advanced of spiritual workers!
It is not to imply that the pot of gold at the end of the “engage the moment without agenda” rainbow is not worth working towards. Far from it. Because engagement is about love. And love cannot lose. When we know, in the core of our being, the nature of love, then work and wealth and love become synonymous. It is a meeting of the two banks of the river, with the middle of the stream, where all presence, heart, and engagement flow in harmony.
I appreciate you spending a few moments in awareness here. Be well. Just Be.
Join us in #SpiritChat on twitter, Sunday June 28th at 9amET/1pmUTC where we will discuss the ideas of Spiritual Work and Wealth. Bring your sunshine, or rain, and if you bring both, who knows, we may spot a rainbow or two! In closing, “I wish the deepest of well being – Pema Chodron”. Namaste.