30. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of Bodhi.
In this slogan, we can think of “evil” as “the effects of ego clinging.” We are invited to recognize all suffering as the result of clinging to a sense of solid, separate self. These things that happen to us can then be seen as steps on the path rather than things to avoid, regardless of whether they produce pleasure or pain. Every experience provides a fresh opportunity to practice and to wake up, to relate to whatever is happening without a sense of poverty.
The process of transforming mishaps into the path of bodhi can be viewed through the lens of precision, gentleness, letting be and letting go. This framework was originally presented as meditation instruction by Pema Chödrön and then adapted by Acharaya Dale Asrael of Naropa University. I practice precision when I am able to follow the instructions and make the teachings a way of life. This, of course, is what I aspire to do all the time. Sometimes, however, I’m not able to live in this way and perhaps self-criticism arises. When I notice this, I can practice gentleness, giving myself a break and accepting my human imperfections. Sometimes gentleness is too much and I stay in self-criticism or negativity, despite my best efforts to go easy on myself. This situation provides an opportunity for letting be – just letting myself be where I am. I try to drop the story line and be present to my direct experience of sensations, feelings, thoughts and impulses. Sometimes, somewhere in this framework I find myself able to just let go of the whole project and simply experience whatever’s happening just as whatever’s happening, free even from this framework.
This is the ongoing practice of living from the heart: viewing everything and everyone as essential parts of the path and precious teachers, rather than as obstacles and impediments. I expand my vision with generosity, free from desire, free from attachment and able to let go or let be.