teacher training

Don't let me be lonely

Shanti-DevaThis morning I'm reading Shantideva- an 8th century text that will form a frame for this weekend's deeper practice meeting. I want to be clear about the deeper practice group: there is a 12 module syllabus, with a backbone of reading and personal study, that you go through. But each time I teach, I'll be teaching from those bones, differently. Each time I'll be introducing a different text or practice for us - for you - to work with. So you can start at anytime - the backbone is there for you to work with. It's a thread you pick up and follow, regardless of whether you can make every month this year or not, the thread is there. And you should come back: the changing skin and deeper textures and tones aren't things you could understand or live with one brush through. We're trying to create community, create a sanctuary of depth practice. That is a rare thing. I'll give you a certificate and you can register as a yoga teacher once you've completed the syllabus. But that is only the surface. Shantideva's text is a handbook for living the way.

We'll be using it because the heartwood of the book talks about the middle. The time after the honeymoon. We all fall a little in love with this practice, have moments of awe or startle or release. But those don't last. So it's important to tend to our practice, after the first fire has been lit. I think this is an important reflection for us to have, as teachers and students. How do you go on? How do you protect the practice and it's insights? How do you develop trust in the practice even when your body can't practice, or life throws you a little chaos, or you remember - because we're all going to have to remember - that there is such suffering in the world? What is the point of practice if there remains such suffering?

To me, Shantideva hears that hearts cry out: don't let me be lonely. Don't leave me. He understood, and he wrote this book.

I was talking with a friend who has had a lot of grief in his life, about my grief. We fumbled. Grief is such a hard question. It touches that bone: please don't leave me. We all want to feel secure, to feel love, to feel at home, to feel like ourselves. And we're all a little neurotic because at base, we know we might lose the job, or our health, or our family.

When we find a practice, we tend to think it'll stay. Just like when we fall in love or get a good job. We think we've finally found it.

Then life kicks in.

Shantideva helps. Come read with me, come sit. There are photocopies of Shantideva's chapters on the table in the prop room if you want to come. I want you to come.

Anyway, I came across this in one of the commentaries: bodhisattvas are passionate about awakening. I say again: this is a passionate practice. Wake up.