Shambhala blues

- through Francois Leclercq

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How not to get lost on the daily path?

In Eastern spiritualities, it is customary to speak of the path, the path or even the Way. Magga (1) in Sanskrit. We would indeed have the image of a practice, of a journey to accomplish which would lead us from the original confusion, from the illusion in which we are entangled and by which we suffer, to a deep and liberating realization, passing by stages and following a route marked out by tradition and centuries of experience. The wise, and that's good, if they have a shaved head and slanted eyes, would be there to give us wise, inspired advice and directives in order to make the best progress on this route, and that is why we are equipped maps that give us a more or less clear idea of ​​the route to take: for many of us, it will be the consultation of books, collections of instructions, inspiring sermons or words of wisdom, sometimes biographies illuminating. However, and this may seem surprising and paradoxical, when we speak of the path, we run the risk of precisely getting lost and really going astray.

Don't barter Chanel for precious incense

This misguidance is of a complex nature. First, we give in to the temptation to instrumentalize a practice to put it at the service of our only small happiness; we hope for results, watch for improvements, we invest in new value that should pay off. We expect well-being, an added value of life, a fruition of newly invested energies. As much to say it right away: from then on, we do more or less only transpose materialistic and commercial reflexes, and pursue the same chimeras even if they are dressed and costumed differently. Here, the businessman's suit and tie and stock market operations have given way to exoticism elaborate esoteric robes and rituals. There, compulsive and frantic shopping, buying to feel better, has taken refuge in an equally unbridled consumption of products with noble and altruistic ambitions. We swapped Chanel for precious incense. We militate, we believe in it and often we disturb our entourage preaching to who better better for a wise consumption of vegetables, a virtuous practice of compassion, a necessary return to basics and the practice of Mindfulness or meditation. We pontificate sometimes. The polite audience will often refrain from admitting it to us: we are very irritating.

The way is not an ideal itinerary that should be followed, a holy attitude that should be adopted, it is our daily life, our very ordinary existence.

Then, we have intelligent selfishness, because obviously, it is still and always a question of nourishing and satisfying the dreams of happiness and fulfillment, not those of others, but indeed ours. We give in to an oversimplification, abandoning childish and primitive consumerist habits to adopt a way of serving self-interest in a more subtle way. And above all, we maintain the mirage of a path on which we must progress. A path ? What path other than that of life, step by step? This path is ourselves, moment by moment, that we are in our very action. The Way is not an ideal itinerary that should be followed, a holy attitude that should be adopted, it is our daily life, our very ordinary existence. Getting up, making breakfast, getting the kids ready and driving them to school, hanging around in traffic jams or wasting time on public transport, paying bills and doing housework, all these daily actions are the Way since they are ourselves alive. Our life as it is, fully lived without religious subtitling, without “bouddieueries” or other spiritualizing frills. Without subtracting or adding anything. So taking ourselves very seriously and shouting from the rooftops that we have found the Way is then quite hilarious.

Ce " Nothing in particular " is called the path

What the practice invites us to do is ultimately not to change our lives, to quit the job and to adopt exotic mores, but to finally be this life which is ours. To finally become the path that we are. And finally to lucidly contemplate our shadows and our resistances. “Buddhas are enlightened about their illusion, deluded beings are confused about their own enlightenment,” said the monk Dogen. The way is to put your nose in your poop, no more and no less. Authentic Awakening begins with a gentle lucidity mixed with humor and self-mockery.

Wherever you are, stop. Could you be anywhere but here and now? Did a path lead you here or is it not rather these stories that you tell yourself to justify yourself? What if you let go of the stories, the traumas, the dramas, the past joys, the excuses you make for yourself, the ideas you have about yourself and the world? Open your eyes and ears and hands. Don't grab or hold anything. Do not capitalize, do not accumulate more. To be and to be again.

Rather than brushing aside resistances and difficulties or ignoring their existence, observe them, question them. This irritation in the morning, this anger against your boss, this annoyance in front of your child or your spouse, this laziness or this boredom, contemplate them without judging them, without judging yourself and rather than running away by turning on the TV, opening a book, swallowing a glass or pretending, stay with this confusion. And let time do and undo. Where does it come from here? If I go even further and communicate with the heart of this emotion, isn't there an incredible energy? What do these emotions teach me about myself?

If you are sitting in meditation, really sitting, totally, what is left? Buddhism? Yourself ? Hopes and fears? If you're really and only sitting, then it's a safe bet that there's nothing special left. No place here for Buddhas and demons. This "nothing special" is called the path. And it's you, really you, relieved of yourself

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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