Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, has the most stunning scenery I've ever seen in person. Like all beautiful wild places, it lifts the human spirit and shakes us out of complacency.
So I'm not surprised that a Tibetan Buddhist monastery was established there. I didn't visit Gampo Abbey when my son and I traveled to Cape Breton two summers ago, although we stayed just a few miles away. We ran out of time and, more important, gasoline -- and the closest gas station was in the other direction. But since then I have discovered the writings of the monastery's resident teacher, Ani Pema Chodron. Here's a sample that is relevant to our ongoing discussion of the role of faith in times of economic uncertainty:
We are given changes all the time. We can either cling to security, or we can let ourselves feel exposed, as if we had just been born, as if we had just popped out into the brightness of life and were completely naked. Maybe that sounds too uncomfortable or frightening, but on the other hand, it's our chance to realize that this mundane world is all there is, and we could see it with new eyes and at long last wake up from our ancient sleep of preconceptions.
The truth, said an ancient Chinese master, is neither like this nor like that. It is like a dog yearning over a bowl of burning oil. He can't leave it, because it is too desirable, and he can't lick it, because it is too hot. So how do we relate to that squeeze? Somehow, someone finally needs to encourage us to be inquisitive about this unknown territory and about the unanswerable question of what's going to happen next.
The state of nowness is available in that moment of squeeze. In that awkward, ambiguous moment is our own wisdom mind. Right there in the uncertainty of everyday chaos is our own wisdom mind.
While I wouldn't say this mundane world is all there is, I am quite certain that facing change as though it is birth does give us new eyes to see the gift of now, the abundant life, even in "the uncertainty of everyday chaos."
How do you react to change and uncertainty? Can it be a place of grace?