Last week I wrote about all the chaos that was happening around me, and I kept on asking, "Why is this happening for me?" As is often the case, the Universe started speaking to me through a book Portia recommended, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty & Change by Pema Chodron. She challenges her readers to make three commitments, and I chose to make the last one, Committing to Embrace the World Just as It is because she encouraged me with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's quote, "Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news." That was, indeed, good news to my ears! The vow challenges us to:
1. Embrace the world just as it is
In this basic ground, many kinds of experiences coexist simultaneously. Uncertainty and unpredictability, impermanence and change, good times and hard times, sorrow and joy, loss and gain--all of this constitutes our home ground, the mandala of our life, our base for practicing fearlessness and compassion. This is our potential richness, our power. So we work with it rather than struggle against it. Our wrethedness humbles us. It cuts through any sense of superiority or entitlement, through any delusions that comfort is somehow our birthright. On the other hand, if there is too much wretchedness---too much misery and despair--it makes us want to collapse and never get out of bed. So the sweetness of life and the harshness of life complement each other. Splendidness provides vision, and wretchedness grounds us.
2. Experience everything as awakened energy, as the manifestation of basic goodness
"With the third commitment, we step fully into groundlessness, relaxing into the continually changing nature of our situation. Experientially it's a big leap forward, and it points us toward a major shift in consciousness. The attitude of the third commitment is that we live in a world that is intrinsically good, intrinsically awake, and our path is to realize this. There is nothing we can see or hear that isn't a manifestation of enlightened energy, that isn't a doorway to sacred world. It's the view we commit to when we vow to embrace the world just as it is.
3. Have No Fixed Identity
Most of the training in the first two commitments involves minimizing our tendency to pin our labels and preconceptions, our views and opinions, on everything we perceive. With the commitment to embrace the world, we continue to question our belief in a fixed identity...We become more fully engaged in our lives when we become less self-absorbed. As we have less and less allegiance to our small, egocentric self, less and less allegiance to a fixed notion of who we are or what we're capable of doing, we find we also have less and less fear of embracing the world just as it is.
Pema says that we are here to practice fearlessness and compassion. She expands the range of "just as it is" far beyond what we find comfortable. The three practices help us face the fullness of our life, not hiding the unacceptable, embarrassing, disagreeable parts; or favoring one kind of experience over another; not rejecting our experience when it hurts or clinging to it when it's going our way. In this basic ground, many kinds of experiences coexist simultaneously.