Stay: Pema Chödrön

“In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. Sometimes we get up and leave. Sometimes we sit there but our bodies wiggle and squirm and our minds go far away. This can be so uncomfortable that we feel it’s impossible to stay. Yet this feeling can teach us not just about ourselves but also about what it is to be human. All of us derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We really don’t want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience. It goes against the grain to stay present. There are the times when only gentleness and a sense of humor can give us the strength to settle down.

The pith instruction is, Stay… stay… just stay. Learning to stay with ourselves in meditation is like training a dog. If we train a dog by beating it, we’ll end up with an obedient but very inflexible and rather terrified dog. The dog may obey when we say “Stay!” “Come!” “Roll over!” and “Sit up!” but he will also be neurotic and confused. By contrast, training with kindness results in someone who is flexible and confident, who doesn’t become upset when situations are unpredictable and insecure.

So whenever we wander off, we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay! Discursive mind? Stay! Are fear and loathing out of control? Stay! Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay! What’s for lunch? Stay! What am I doing here? Stay! I can’t stand this another minute! Stay! That is how to cultivate steadfastness.“

-Pema Chödrön

from Tumblr

Aerial Photograph Before the Atomic Bomb – Toi Derricotte

Why did such terrible events
catch my eye? After Hiroshima,
I turned the picture in Life around
in circles, trying to figure out this huge
wheel in the middle of the air, how it turned,
like a ferris wheel, its lights
burning like eyes.
The atom spinning
on course over the sleeping
vulnerable planet. I turned it the way one might
turn a kaleidoscope or prism. Even then I
knew about the town lying under,
like a child sleeping under the
watchful gaze of a rapist, before the spasm of
stopped breath, the closure at the
scream of the throat, before the body is awakened
along its shocked spine to bursting
light, the legs closing, the arms,
like a chilled flower. That eye, that spinning eye

seeking the combustible.
This was a heat
I had felt already in our house on Norwood.
looked green, placid as a green field,
predictable as machinery — an antique clock.
This was the instant
before destruction,
the fiery atom stuck
as if under the control of the artist
before it spilled and became irretrievable.
Could it be sucked back
in its lead bag, the doors of the underbelly slammed,
and those men who would go on to
suicide and madness, go on instead
to become lovers, priests, Buddhist
smilers and scholars, gardeners in the small plots
of contained passion?