The Secret of Awakening
Our way of being is to create a dualistic world of opposites. We grasp at things or reject them. We like or dislike. We have views and opinions that invariably display one-sidedness. We want to do this training, then we don’t want to do it. What we seldom experience with any sort of consistency is living in the middle of these extremes. But the definition of authentic practice is to be able to live in that middle space between these opposites. That place that you sometimes touch but seldom abide in with any consistency.
Lift yourself up when you feel uninspired and fearful, contain yourself when you are tempted to grasp and get carried away. This is the secret of awakening, and the secret that the Buddha discovered – it’s called the Middle Way.
As well as encouraging us to reflect over the past year, this talk gives practical advice on how to have the right relationship with our training. Āloka provides principles that can be applied to that annual reflection, but also to the daily practice. Some of the key messages for me are (1) maintain a consistent commitment – Āloka sees this as regular practice that does not intensify with good times nor slacken in tough times (2) maintain a constant effort – “lean in” without force and don’t be tempted to remain in the comfort zone (3) discover the middle way – try to find equanimity rather than be pulled to the extremes or opposites (4) never be complacent – always keep watch.
I find it challenging to go into the unknown and enjoy the adventure, particularly when the practice uncovers fear and vulnerabilities. However, the fruit of being able to do this and give up our attachments is described as inconceivable, and committed consistent practice can give us this direct experience.