The Space of Simplicity.

The Space of Simplicity. May 1, 2015

simplicity of curious george

We will develope love, we will practice it, we will make it both a way and a basis

Buddha-Samyutta Nikaya

There seems to be a never ending flood of negative news, social media posts and even inter- relationship gossiping. We hear about the riots in Baltimore, the political mud-slinging with presidential elections on the horizon, hatred over LGBT issues, abortion rights, drought, earthquakes, famine, and the list truly seems to have no end. What else could there possibly be to talk about?

I scan through my Facebook feed each morning, interested in the happenings of friends and family, and sadly, not to my surprise, I am instead plagued with the constant news of police brutality, militant uprising and animal and child abuse. I lower my head and heave a heavy sigh, naively asking myself, “When did everyone become so negative?”

I know the answer. Things haven’t really changed all that much. We just hear and see it faster now and each negative morsel is literally at our fingertips. I close my phone, place it on the floor and feel my daughter’s small head shift in my lap. I look down and place my hand on her red curls and hear her coo in contentment as she watches Curious George.

I am not suffering the delusion that ignoring the problems will make them go away, but I also know that violence and fighting hatred with hatred has historically never been the answer. We replace one unstable party with another, one unhappy group becomes happy and the formerly happy group now becomes unhappy.

We ignore the obvious and keep pushing for change outside of ourselves in the hopes that  it will give us inner peace. If only this would change, then we will be happy. But, eventually it all changes and we find ourselves not even noticing because we are now fixated on a new, overwhelming, world shaking issue that consumes all life and emotional space.

My daughter wraps her hand around my finger and grips it tight. I smile and find myself relaxing, appreciating simple moments that are here—in my present moment, devoid of motives or opinions. It is just a simple awareness of space and comfort. I wonder how many such moments we miss in our negativity addiction.

We speak of revolutions and new paradigms, yet the inner struggle remains unchanged. We leave ourselves devoid of the ability to sit and simply be aware of our own struggle—our own anger, our own fears, and doubts—and in so doing, our world view does not and cannot change. We cling to our insecurity, comfortable and addicted to the suffering we know, and in fear of the chance for freedom in the openness of what we do not know.

My daughter’s legs and feet shift back and forth with the vibrance and energy of growth and simple contentment for life itself. I wonder, how can we apply this mindset to each other? How can love become the path and the vehicle? Can a true revolution take place? Can the simplicity of the moment really be enough to sustain change and awareness in others?

I know the doubts of most of us when confronted with this idea. We jump from lesson to lesson, teacher to teacher, obsessed with consuming each grain of wisdom and hope and yet, we don’t apply it. We just collect it, storing it away as if in preparation for a rainy day at some undisclosed moment in the future. Simplicity seems, well, too simple. There has to be something more, something bigger, something grander and more awe inspiring.

So, we continue to run from the moment, from the openness of uncluttered space and mind and we find ourselves caught up in the drama and negative cycle all over again. We shrug our shoulders and move on. Maybe the next thing will help. Maybe the next seminar, the next book, the next Oprah pick of the month.

Brynn looks up at me, her bright blue eyes peeking out from behind big red curls; “I love you daddy!” She rolls her head back over towards the TV and sighs in contentment. And there it is. That small thing we so often miss—the ability to just be content. To just sit in love for its own simple reason. All the change we want to see outside of ourselves cannot exist until we are a living reflection of that change.

Yes, it is simple—it is really that simple. How can revolution take place until we have changed that inner status, that inner dialogue? It takes great courage to sit in simplicity simply because we doubt it so much. It is a leap into our fears and anxieties and one we most often don’t want to take. But until we have truly done do, we cannot blame the lack of change within on the lack of change without.

So maybe the challenge for the moment, the hour, the day, the week even, is just to find the willingness to not try and fill every empty space, whether in our minds or in our schedules. To instead, engage the openness of just being where we are. Content in sharing the moment with ourselves and those around us. Using this space to open up to love as the path and the vehicle.

There is a story in Buddhist lore, of a Brahmin who approached the Buddha and asked what all the hoopla was about. The Buddha say and explained his teaching to the Brahmin. The Brahmin sat, blinking, in disbelief that that was all there was to it. Mindfulness and love? That’s it? “Even a child can do that!” he exclaimed. The Buddha smiled and said, “yes, yet even old man fail.”

I lean back, Brynn snuggles deeper in and we seem to sigh in unity…”he’s curious, Curious George!”

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