Awakening the Heart
There’s a common misunderstanding among all human beings that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.
A much more interesting, kind, adventurous and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes
beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms. To lead a more passionate, full and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a
lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what the world is, how the whole thing just is. If we’re committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of
pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing.
When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a
bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say, “If it weren’t for my
husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for my boss, my job would be just great.” And “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”
But loving-kindness towards ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. It means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The
point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
The path of meditation and the path of our lives together has to do with curiosity, inquisitiveness. The ground is ourselves; we’re here to study ourselves and to get to know ourselves now, not later. People
often say to me, “I wanted to come and have an interview with you, I wanted to write you a letter, I wanted to call you on the phone, but I wanted to wait until I was more together. And I think, “Well, if you’re anything like me, you could wait forever!” So come as you are. The magic is being willing to be open to that, being willing to be fully awake to that. One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing
how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are. That’s not considered to be a problem; the point is to see it.
Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape