My morning reading from Pema Chondron touched something deep in me, and I wanted to share it with you. The reading has to do with bodhichitta, which loosely refers to the tenderness of the awakened heart. Pema Chondron offers an expanded definition of bodhichitta as our profound human longing to engage in and bring deep love and compassion, awakened relating, and enlightenment to this earth and in this way be part of alleviating the suffering experienced by all. (See this video for more on this concept.) This reading hits on a similar theme. What I love about it most is how it describes this sort of relating is a descent, a descent into heart and into soul, toward a center, a basic ground we all share.
Here is the reading:
Spiritual awakening is often described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our wordliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all the others behind–our drunken brother, our schizophrenic sister, our tormented animals and friends. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.
In the process of discovering bodhichitta, the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain is pointed to the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and the doubt. We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it. We move toward it however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die. (Chondron, 2008)
May we all embrace the descent.