I Heard it Like This…
Reflections of an inspired talk by Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax.
TEN STEPS ON THE PATH OF SELF AWARENESS
There are ten steps we all can take to enlarge our self awareness. These steps are like strings on an instrument or notes on a piano. We can practice them separately but when played together, we can make beautiful music.
(if you prefer to listen & meditate – there is approx. 30 seconds of silence after the bell, before Alan speaks again; but you can fast-forward if you don’t wish to meditate)
The seventh step along the path of self awareness involves KNOWLEDGE. What kind of knowledge? The knowledge of impermanence? This is the knowledge that awareness of mental and material phenomenon are continually changing, continually in flux. We may wish to cling to an idea such as happiness but if we notice what is happening inside us, happiness is not something solid, not something we can lock down. If we become aware of pain, even physical pain, that too is not something we can know with certainty. It shifts, ebbs, moves around, is felt slightly differently in slightly different places. The knowledge of impermanence allows us to liberate ourselves from clinging to fixed thoughts, emotions, and especially rigid ideas of self.
What is it about the nature of impermanence that is so important to self awareness? Self awareness is strengthened whenever habitual patterns of thought and fixed ideas are surrendered. We become more agile in facing ambiguity. We become more skillful at seeking clarity without the obstacles of existing prejudices. We become aware of the self that both creates and clings to form. We are better able to develop positive habits of letting go and letting come a new awareness.