tara-brach

Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap. The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.
—  Tara Brach, “True Refuge”
We are uncomfortable because everything in our life keeps changing – our inner moods, our bodies, our work, the people we love, the world we live in. We can’t hold on to anything – a beautiful sunset, a sweet taste, an intimate moment with a lover, our very existence as the body/mind we call self – because all things come and go. Lacking any permanent satisfaction, we continuously need another injection of fuel, stimulation, reassurance from loved ones, medicine, exercise, and meditation. We are continually driven to become something more, to experience something else.
—  Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
Working With Difficulties: The Blessings of RAIN

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

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If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses, and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life.
—  Tara Brach
Suspend Activity: Pause

‘Learning to pause is the first step of Radical Acceptance. A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving toward any goal… The pause can occur in the midst of almost any activity and can last for an instant, for hours or for seasons of our life… We may pause in the midst of meditation to let go of thoughts and reawaken our breath. We may pause by stepping out of daily life to go on a retreat or to spend time in nature or to take a sabbatical… You might try it now: Step reading and sit there, doing “no thing,” and simply notice what you are experiencing.’

- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.

If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses, and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life.
—  Tara Brach
With an undefended heart, we can fall in love with life over and over every day. We can become children of wonder, grateful to be walking on earth, grateful to belong with each other and to all of creation. We can find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath.
—  Tara Brach 
Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing, and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.
— 

Tara Brach,

BREATHING OUT: OFFERING OUR CARE

We have maps in our minds and we’re believing them. Some maps trigger a sense of separation and fear and emotional pain. If we can remember that the map is not the territory, we begin to have some choice about how much we’re going to pay attention to it.
—  Real but Not True: Freeing Ourselves from Harmful Beliefs – a particularly profound, even life-changing talk from Tara Brach’s altogether transformative mindfulness teachings. 

“Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing, and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.”

―Tara Brach, BREATHING OUT: OFFERING OUR CARE: Transforming suffering, from the Spring issue 2013, “Spirit in the World.”

Photography Credt: Film Still from Wings of Desire, by Wim Wenders, 1987. Watch the trailer at Criterion.

The Tenderness of Compassion

‘Compassion means to be with, feel with, suffer with. Classical Buddhist texts describe compassion as the quivering of the heart, a visceral tenderness in the face of suffering. In the Buddhist tradition, one who has realized the fullness of compassion and lives from compassion is called a bodhisattva. The bodhisattva’s path and teaching is that when we allow our hearts to be touched by suffering - our own or another’s - our natural compassion flowers. The bodhisattva’s aspiration is simple and powerful: “May all circumstances serve to awaken compassion.” When we are going through a divorce, afraid for our child, facing disease, facing death - whatever is happening can be a gateway to the clear and limitless compassion, which is the essence of Radical Acceptance.

My understanding of the bodhisattva path is that we are all awakening beings, each of us learning to face suffering, each of us discovering the compassion that expresses our deepest nature. As we come to trust in suffering as a gateway to compassion, we undo our deepest conditioning to run away from pain. Rather than struggling against life, we are able to embrace our experience, and all beings, with a full and tender presence.

To cultivate the tenderness of compassion, we not only stop running away from suffering, we deliberately bring our attention to it. Buddhist compassion practices usually begin with being aware of our own pain because once our hearts are tender and open to our own suffering, we can more easily extend compassion to others. Sometimes we most easily connect with tenderness by first focusing our attention on the suffering of others and then bringing attention to our experience. Either way, as we feel suffering and relate to it with care rather than resistance, we awaken the heart of compassion. As we practice responding to our suffering with the kindness of compassion, our hearts can become as wide as the world.’

- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance, Awakening the Love That Heals Fear and Shame Within Us.