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In these times, when so much is going on - when there’s a constant flow of information and the situation is seemingly changing by the hour - it can feel hard to maintain one’s practice. It can be hard to not be blown about by the worldly winds.
I’ve been acutely aware of the extremes of my responses to even the smallest of things these past few days: joy at the sunlight streaming in the window, at exchanging smiles with a stranger on a solitary urban ramble; grief and depression at the daily news updates, the terrible suffering facing some people around the world as a result of this crisis. But, these days, even the onset of rain can disproportionately deflate my spirits! It’s easy to get caught up in these experiences and forget the bigger picture. All too easy to spend one’s time lost in problem-solving or trying to reassert control over something, anything - even if it’s just the amount of toilet roll you have in reserve!
Today’s teaching is about remembering to remember the Dharma - that most basic but vital thing! A lot of the work of spiritual practice is around putting ourselves into good conditions. In this case, putting ourselves into conditions where we remember to practice means setting up the conditions that ensure we will be reminded! Given that I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual at my laptop - as I’m sure many of us are, staying digitally connected - I decided to remind myself by taking the time to change my desktop background from the generic computer image to a photo I took a few years ago of a beautiful tree I came across in the Phoenix Park here in Dublin, Ireland. I find that image very beautiful and restful and it brings back happy memories of time spent with friends. But I’ve also written in a lojong (mind-training) teaching on the image to keep me on track: “always maintain a joyful mind”. With all that’s going on, trying to stay in positive mental states and having a sense of humour, holding things lightly, helps me keep everything in perspective. This is my work for now, that’s my ‘Dharma door’. Every time I turn on my computer I’m being reminded of this intention: and these days, that is a lot of being reminded!
So what helps you remember to remember? Feel free to share what works for you in the comments below.
Read Vajragupta’s daily reflection with suggestions of how to remember to remember
Find out more about “buddying up” with someone
Tune in later today for a Q+A with Vajragupta, author of Sailing the Worldly Winds (link to join will appear 20 minutes before scheduled start time)