chey being

Seeing what's inside again.


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Attachments

On Monday I wrote a post entitled, “Letting Go.”  The focus was on letting go of destructive behavioral patterns more than attachments to physical things.  However, later that day as I was driving in my car, I was listening to the book on CD, You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh and none to my surprise, he began speaking about letting go.  He began with a version of this story:

Releasing the Cows

One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by. The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by.

The farmer said, “Monks, I’m so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don’t know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself.

The Buddha said, “My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction.”

So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, “My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don’t have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy.

“That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows.”

The author went on to encourage the reader to name his own “cows.”  So, I began to try and think of things, physical things, that I had great attachment to.  I found this difficult at first.  Other things came to mind such as health, because I know I tend to get very unhappy when I feel physical pain and not sure of the cause.  I thought of my children.  I did think of my car (I love my car!).  Honestly though, I could not think of too many material things.  Prior to my grandmother passing, I had strong feelings and connections to material items; I saved everything!  When she passed and none of us knew what to do with all her belongings, I realized that none of these things mattered.  It was an eye-opening experience to see someone’s life memories laid out in front of you; as harsh as it sounds, it just looks like a bunch of junk.  It truly had an effect on me and I quickly began to emotionally detach from my belongings.

Even after pondering on all these things, I felt I was missing something.  I know I have strong attachments somewhere!  I still have yet to put my finger on it.  I know I am still working on my attachment to outcomes, to orderliness, and to perfection.  Oh that evil word, perfection!  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe these are the things I need to continue to work on.

It is always a beautiful reminder that our happiness should not be dependent upon that new pair of shoes, or our partner loving us the way we deserved to be loved, or our children getting straight A’s in school.  There is always something to think about or to look at and simply be happy.  Today for the first time, I sat and ate my lunch without the TV on.  I thought about what I was eating.  I tasted what I was eating.  I was grateful for my food and it nourishing my body.  Nothing else existed but me and that food.  No worries.  No distractions.  I set my attachment to the TV, to being in a rush, and to thinking about what was next on the agenda all aside.  It was so simple, so mundane, but guess what?  It made me really happy.

So what are the names of your cows?

 

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Letting Go

As I begin a new chapter of sorts in my life, the following three words have been on my mind:

Attachments

Control

Distractions

I am slowly learning that I can have a preference for the way I would like things to happen, but I must avoid an attachment to it.  What I want and what my soul needs can often be two very different things.  This has been a tough concept for me to accept.  It takes surrendering to the universe.  It takes faith and trust.  Three things that do not come easy for me.

Why does surrendering, faith and trust not come easy for me?  It requires letting go of control. Or rather, the illusion of control because we are never really in control of anything.  Why do I want to control?  Fear.  I often live in a place of fear.  You name it and I fear it.  (Except death.  Oddly, that used to be my greatest fear and now it is my least!)  I fear disappointing people.  I fear not doing something well….anything well.  I fear not living to my potential.  I fear never becoming anything more than what I am.  I fear pain.  I fear never being at peace.  I fear never being truly loved.  I can not control any of these things so I try to find other things I can control such as, keeping my house clean.  Doesn’t that sound insane?  I am laughing at myself just thinking about it.  Honestly, who would guess that my obsession with cleanliness came from fear of life?

Another form of control is using distractions.  If I don’t know what to do with an emotion, or I am trying to write and nothing is coming out, or I simply want to run from what I know I should be doing, I will find a distraction.  Usually, it involves cleaning (again), or running errands.  Again, I find myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all!  I will make up “To Do Lists” to distract me from the real “To Do List!”

These are things I am learning to recognize in myself.  Now the trick is that once I recognize what I am doing that I STOP doing it!

As I begin to peel back layers of myself, I am finding a lot of deep seeded issues.  Feelings and thought patterns that have been ruling my life.  I want to zip myself back up and not deal with it because I am not sure how.  There are times when I feel I do not have the tools or support to take on my own self.  But I do.  I do.  Everything I need is already inside me.  I have to learn to trust it.  I have to learn to have faith.

I also have to learn to let others help me.  This is something I have recently discovered about myself…I find it almost impossible to accept help from others!  I think this comes from four things, 1. I am often let down by others so if I don’t rely on any one, they can’t let me down, 2. I don’t have to put expectations of myself that could lead to failure, 3.  I was brought up in a family that taught me that to ask for help was placing a burden on others and we simply did not do that, 4.  I don’t feel worthy of any one’s help.  When I think about all of these together, the thick brick wall I put up makes so much sense when others offer me help!

I think the first one is the toughest for me to overcome and that goes back to not having attachments, but there is a huge part of me that wants to believe in someone.  Believe they really care and will do as they say.  I have to believe that there are people out there that are true to their word.  I desperately want to believe that but I sense that I need to let go of that desire as well.  Am I wanting these things for the wrong reason?  Am I just wanting to be taken care of?  Am I wanting an escape from what I should do myself?  Do I place too high of expectations on others?  These are questions I don’t have the answers to yet.

After writing through that, I now think number four is the toughest…I don’t feel worthy.  If I don’t think I am worthy, no one else will.  Hmm…that might be a good place to start.

I am worthy.