23. Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.
This slogan is a reminder that the only path out of my habitual experiences is through them. When I encounter something unexpected, I can let it stop my mind. Then I can notice the moment of bewilderment, astonishment and space and let myself rest in this gap a bit longer. Remember the absolute bodhicitta slogan “rest in the nature of alaya, the essence”? Once my mind starts up again and the storyline resumes, I can practice Tonglen and connect with relative bodhicitta.
Whatever comes up unexpectedly is not a threat or an encouragement – it’s a surprise. These seeming obstacles can be accommodated on the spot, waking us up and becoming part of the path. When I respond with a quality of presence and curiosity rather than reactivity or frustration, I am much more likely to receive the gifts each situation offers me.