February 27 marks the Tibetan New Year and another opportunity to start fresh, abandoning old patterns of hope and fear. That is really the crux of Buddhist philosophy: staying present and mindful in THIS moment, rather than hoping or worrying about other outcomes.
On our Western New Year I wrote about Seeing Clearly (also the subject of my last nonfiction book, here on the main page.) Basically it means accepting what is. Seeing things as they are, without our filters and interpretations– just “as is.”
Whenever we struggle with our situation (whatever it is) we suffer. That is what Buddha is said to have realized back in the day, and what all the various Buddhist teachers express. Grappling with this concept IS our practice (as one of my favorite teachers Tsunma Pema Chodron) is fond of saying. (It is my intention to title my next book Grappling, for that reason.)
The rub, for me at least, is even accepting that fact. I constantly want to say, “yes but…” As in what about physical pain? What about the need to rise up and fight against fascism? (or hate, greed, torture, abuse.) Isn’t it lame to let go of the Valiant struggles? Isn’t that just caving in and giving up? Words matter, especially in Dharma. Acceptance vs. resignation is a favorite topic for grappling. Here’s a podcast from the Secular Buddhist on that very issue (only 11 minutes and worth the time.)
So, the upshot (as Noah explains in the podcast) is about how we handle our moment to moment experiences; responding– rather than reacting emotionally– to whatever is occurring. It’s about creating the space and freedom to respond, not resigning or surrendering. The answer comes by grappling with this process and letting go of our reactive patterns. Translating that to our big concerns takes practice, unless you are so fortunate as experience instant Enlightenment. 🕉️ (More on that in a future post.)
As for the Fire Bird, it is part of the Tibetan astrological phases based on a lunar calendar. It represents passion and also awakening. Beautiful image!