Posts Tagged ‘Pure Experience’


Summarizing a story here from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, followed by how I put it into practice:

Jacob was 70 years old, he’d been meditating for 20 years and occasionally he taught classes to students of Buddhism.  He finds himself in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s.  There are times when he is quite lucid and aware of what is happening.  However, at other times he does not know where he is, how he got there, or why he is there.  It is on one such day that he leads a talk to fellow students of Buddhism.  This is what transpires:

“Jacob looked out at the expectant faces before him … suddenly he did not know what he was supposed to say or do.  He didn’t know where he was or why he was there.  His heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.  Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.

For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience.  As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud.  At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered and apologized.

Many of the students were in tears.  As one put it, “No one has ever taught us like this.  Your presence has been the deepest teaching.”  Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience.  In some fundamental way he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings and confusion.  He didn’t make anything wrong.

Perhaps you will take a moment as I did, to pause and reflect on the enormity of what this man accomplished with pure unconditional acceptance.  And, with no eye to actually accomplishing anything at all.

I tried this myself on several issues.  I have been in conflict with a government agency that provides services for my son.  I made an inquiry, which is another tool that Tara Brach gives in her book: What is really happening here?

Story about not being in control, feeling afraid.  I am just naming the story, not building on it, while acknowledging how I feel in that moment.  In that space of allowing, it’s no longer a me against them.  It’s a story with a feeling, that’s given the space to simply be.  Nothing to fix, here nothing is wrong.

I have to make a call to an insurance company that I’ve been dreading.  Story about lack, and on this occasion, it’s a story about “not enough time”.  Feeling tense, frustrated, and not breathing freely.

Lastly, reading an email today that upset me.  A story about rejection and not being lovable, the feeling is sadness and once again not breathing freely.  Several conscious breaths don’t seem to move this rather sticky one.  So I stop and just sit with it, remembering the aim isn’t to move, change or fix anything.  I stay with it for a few hours, I continue consciously breathing, consciously noticing the thoughts and feelings rise up and move through me like so many waves in the ocean.  After a time, the breath leads me gently to that place where it’s all held lightly in unconditional acceptance.  No longer having any meaning, pure experience in the moment, that is finally allowed to just simply be.

“How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races—the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses.  Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage.  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Namaste my friends.

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