Pausing to Breathe

September 16, 2013
As we finish up the exploration of the ethical practices of the Eightfold Path, it could be easy to look at wise speech, wise action and wise livelihood as a set of guidelines about what not to do. Here is a lovely way to approach the ethical precepts from a more positive stance. This comes from James Baraz in his beautiful book, Awakening Joy. Instead of:
Don’t Kill: Honor All Life
Don’t Steal: Share Your Time and Resources
Don’t Misuse Sexuality: Take Care with Sexual Energy, Respecting Boundaries and Offering Safety
Don’t use Harsh Speech: Speak Kindly and Carefully
Don’t use Intoxicants that Cause Heedlessness: Develop a Clear Mind and Health Body
These ethical precepts are life-long practices that require ardency, dedication, constancy, and the willingness to show up for our lives by truly paying attention. We may never get it exactly right, but that’s not really the point. The point is to live our lives with the intention towards goodwill and harmlessness for ourselves and others. And hopefully with practice, we’ll do that more often than not.
So, taking a breath this week to relish the last week of summer and the coming of fall, here’s a poem printed in the current issue of The Sun magazine.
Don’t you wish they would stop,
all the thoughts swirling around in your head like
bees in a hive, dancers tapping their way across the stage?
I should rake the leaves in the carport, buy Christmas lights.
Is there really life on Mars? What will I cook for dinner?
There’s frost on the front lawn, dry branches
on the stoop. I walk up the driveway to put out the garbage
and think: I should stop using plastic bags,
call my friend whose husband just left her for the nanny
from Sweden, a place I might like to visit.
I wish I hadn’t said Patrick’s painting looked “ominous.”
Maybe that’s why he hasn’t answered my e-mails.
Does the car need oil? There’s a hole in the ozone
the size of Texas, and everything seems to be speeding up.
Come, let’s stand by the window and look out
at the light on the field. Let’s watch how
the clouds cover the sun, and almost nothing
stirs in the grass.
~Danusha Lameris