The Summer of Basic Goodness, part two
This summer, it’s as if the Sakyong has tired of watching us, in all our earnestness, continually miss the point. So he is taking us by the hand and saying, “Follow me.” Instead of leading us to some lofty dimension, we’re placed thoroughly in our own body. Funny thing about the body – it can only be in the present. There’s no way for the body to be anywhere else than right here, right now. Due to this “limitation,” our own body is a uniquely reliable go-to spot for experiencing the present moment. We’re talking about this very temple of complaint. This is important, because basic goodness is said to be accessible only in the present moment. The mind, as you may have noticed, is pretty slippery. It can travel anywhere and everywhere, and usually does. In the process, it passes over, even through the present moment. Finding nothing much to recommend it, the mind keeps on going. “Nope, this can’t be it.” The Sakyong is showing us that the body is the perfect landing pad for the mind. Right here, right now.
Here we are with this perfect gateway to the present. We’ve been given the keys of gentleness and openness. Practice, study and the teachings have set the stage, creating readiness and awareness. All that has been missing for many of us is direct experience. It’s like the story about the student who wants to learn to swim. She can be told about swimming, could even study swimming. At some point, she has to get wet to know swimming. The Sakyong is helping us dive right in.
I’m reminded that one of our Shambhala teachers says you can “know” something, but that’s not the same as “know knowing” it. This is meant to distinguish between having intellectual understanding versus an understanding that changes our relationship with ourselves and our life. Genuine knowing engages the heart. There’s fullness and warmth. We come alive with wellness and potential. Doubt transforms into curiosity in the bright light of genuine knowing. Tension is no longer required because holding back is not necessary. Even a glimpse of this level of knowing carries the power to alter our internal landscape. Even though we may not consistently maintain the awareness of this knowing, it only takes remembering it to reengage. We cannot “un-know” the genuine knowing that comes from personal experience. With repeated “glimpses,” unconditional warrior confidence develops. This is the level of knowing that the Sakyong is offering. It is what we need in the face of global doubt in the worthiness of human beings.
As the Sakyong said in his letter, Answer of the Golden Sun, we are living in a time of uncertainty, regarding the human heart. He is showing us the path to a level of knowing that can hold all of this uncertainty, a kind of knowing we can stand behind – that can give us the courage to experience and proclaim basic goodness. That would certainly be good news – and in a time when good news is sorely needed.
It is time for us to move from view into practice. It’s possible to take refuge in this ground, saying “everything is basic goodness,” but having to base that on hope, rather than genuine experience. In our teachings, the view, or ground is discovered, “realized” through a practice or action referred to as the path. Basic goodness is the very ground of the Shambhala teachings. The path is connecting so thoroughly with basic goodness as to be free of any hesitation. This summer, the Sakyong is guiding all of us in what it takes to connect directly with the ground of basic goodness. He is telling us that the path of genuinely knowing basic goodness is right here in this body. He is giving us the practice of being (fully, with gentle awareness and open curiosity) in the experience of this alive body and its vibrant hum of feelings.
May this genuine level of connection with basic goodness, with our fundamental teaching, blossom in each of us. May we look back on this summer as the year the Sakyong removed our own veil of confusion about living in the clear light of basic goodness.