"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha
“Darling, I am here for you.”
Posted on May 24, 2016
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Through the years, many of you have been witness to the absolute love I hold in my heart for the song “Let it Be”. It’s a song that has appeared in every chapter of my life (sometimes numerous times)….probably since before I can even remember. The raw spiritual connection and emotional acceptance offered by the lyrics have been validated by so many experiences that have been shared by family, friends, students and teachers throughout the years. Paul McCartney wrote this famous song about his own mother Mary, who died when he was just 14 years old.
Something deep inside us knows what we need in times of trouble. It turns out this is rarely ever good stern fatherly advice or even friendly advice. In our hours of darkness, broken heartedness, and sheer exhaustion, it turns out that we don’t need very many words at all. What we need is a non-judgmental and caring presence that lets it all just, be. What we need is a kind attention that can embrace the whole of what we are, including our pain and anger and confusion. An attention like a hug.
“Darling, I am here for you.” The great Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn composed this mantra of true presence. Please consider saying this to yourself. Look in the mirror at your face in the morning and say it. Say it late at night when you can’t sleep. Say it all the time. Be extravagant in offering yourself the gift of kind attention. Let yourself be. Let yourself dare to know you are acceptable and welcome in this life, just as you are. In a teaching with His Holiness not long ago he said quite firmly, “If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone. When you talk, you are only repeating what you know. But when you listen to yourself, you will always learn something new.”
“Darling, I am here for you.” Saying such a statement to ourselves can seem outrageously silly until we try it. Then it can seem revolutionary. Think of all the beings you have pinned your hopes on and maybe even tortured trying to get them to give you this kind, accepting attention. And here it is, whenever you need it. Personally, I have had great, life-changing experiences in my life. Yet the slow-motion revelation has been realizing that we can invite the healing power of presence into our lives….and in the simplest, most down to earth way.
It starts with giving up the war with what is. Just for a moment, give up the thinking and scheming…..and even in the midst of all that mental obsessing, come home to the awareness of the present moment, home to the awareness of the body, bruised and tired as it may feel from all that effort and neglect. Let it be. This can bring light to dark places. In Tibetan Buddhism, most specifically Dzogchen, this sort of self-awareness and acceptance is often referred to as Rigpa or “spontaneous presence, unbounded wholeness and awareness” and is considered “the energetic ground” or support for life. Without it there would only be Avidyā, or ignorance.….His Holiness often analogizes Rigpa as ”one’s true nature is like a mirror which reflects with complete openness, but is not affected by the reflections”…..there are no self-judgments.
This can seem a huge paradox. Our minds and bodies are very limited, and deep down we know this. Our cognition and perceptions have been hammered by conditioning. Even in the midst of our frantic mental posturing, we can physically feel how we spin and twist things. But sometimes we can stop for a moment, give up all that and open….trusting that we don’t have to solve everything and that more will be revealed.
One of my dear teachers once told me that he prefers the phrase “let it be” to “let it go” because letting go can feel like too much doing, inviting the ego to take over, ending the sense of being with life. I immediately loved the phrase because it conveys a gentle movement of availability….allowing….acceptance. If there is to be an answer to the mystery of our lives, if there is to be healing of the heartbreak and soothing of the trouble, it starts and ends here. We invite in the mothering attention. We let it be.
I have been blessed to study with the sweet and gentle Thich Nhat Hahn seven times throughout my monastic career….I once heard him say that understanding is really acceptance, and acceptance is love. I’ve held this statement close to my heart for a long time and I believe it to be true. Acceptance is not resignation or passivity….it is the opposite of weakness. It is the quietly courageous movement of allowing what is, to be what it is…..understanding that what will be, will be…..and that more will be revealed.
It turns out that the greatest wisdom and the greatest love is expressed in small moments and movements, not in big sword-brandishing gestures. It does not require straining beyond our simple human selves, just the opposite. It involves daring to silently say “Darling, I am here for you. Let it be.”