Meditation in Action. That is the title of the chapter in Natural Radiance, by Lama Surya Das, that reinforces for us that “we are the tiller of our own boat, and the steering wheel of the great vehicle that is in our own hands.” Meditation leads to mastery over our tillers and steering wheels, and why actions and conduct regarding cause and effect and interconnectedness can remain meticulous. Here is how Lama Das says we remain true even in difficult situations:
No matter how much you practice formal meditation and chanting, the true measure of your growth occurs in your daily encounters with the world. You will derive the greatest benefits from natural meditation if you see it as a continuous practice, extending beyond the time you spend in formal meditation.
When you find yourself confronted with difficult situations, bring to mind the memory and sensation of vastness and spacious clarity that is available to you when you meditate. Realize that this infinite universe is your natural habitat and that you are part of it and it is you. When you cannot sense this, there are merely some clouds obscuring the sky-like nature of Buddha mind. Natural meditation clears away the clouds so that you can see the reality of your own inherent freedom and innate perfection. Once you have experienced this glimpse of infinity, you can always remind yourself that the sky-the infinite, the timeless-is constantly and endlessly available to you, whatever the weather.
One of the most important instructions is to remember that it takes two to tangle. It was in this sense that the great meditator Tilopa gave the one of the most famous examples of pith instructions: “It is not outer things that entangle us; it is inner clinging and fixation that entangles us.” Our experiences are like Velcro-they often have hooks attempting to hook us into the world, but, if we do not provide the rings, they cannot hook onto us.
That is why since time immemorial a secret of self-mastery and spiritual autonomy has been that it is not happens to us, but what we make of it that makes all the difference. It is not the causes and conditions and circumstances that occur in our lives that really determine our karma, our character, our experience, or our destiny. It is what we make of those experiences, and our destiny.
The winds of karma–that is, the winds of conditioning, individual and collective, local and global–may blow from the past, yes. But we can learn how to use the tiller better, how to better set the sails, how to sail better, how to use the wind or the force of the opponent so that rather than blowing us away, we can even learn to take into the wind to get to where we choose to.
Let us never forget that we are the tiller of our own boat, and the steering wheel of our great vehicle is in our own hands.
Adapted from Natural Radiance, by Lama Surya Das (Sounds True, 2005).