No Mud, No Lotus

Earlier this week, my friend, Teresa, posted an article written by the Vietnamese monk, Ticht Nacht Han. I suggest giving it a read after you finish this post!

https://www.parallax.org/mindfulnessbell/article/no-mud-no-lotus-2/

According to Han, we mislabel some of our emotions and experiences as bad when they are really “the mud” in which other parts of our life can grow. This includes the grief and despair I have been feeling, lately.

Han’s wisdom is the essence of mindfulness: just observe life, don’t rate it. Happiness is no more important than grief, calm no more important than suffering and good health no more important than sickness or even death.

Last night, I described some “mud” to my friend, Peter. I told him about the fear I was experiencing regarding sharing some of my new, very political songs. I was hesitating to record them, I said, because I was afraid of them not being liked or appreciated – an old trap for us creatives. In addition, I was rating myself as “bad” or “shameful” because I was avoiding the recording of the first song – which I love!

With Peter’s gentle support, I saw that I was experiencing over and over was a cycle. It begins with fear of change, leads to the discomfort of not doing anything about it, and then involves a leap into the unknown where we find we have improved ourselves and the world around us by moving through that experience.

The mud and the lotus can be seen as parts of a system or we can even say that they are one and the same. We may see the stem, thorn and flower as parts of the rose, but we call them all “a rose.” The roses in the soil can also be seen as one entity – the garden.

Our gardens are made up of life experience, our DNA, our legacy and the culture we live in. It is the weather we fret about or enjoy, the wood for the fire we collect to keep us warm and the mice that want to share that warm home with us. We may have uncomfortable or happy thoughts and feelings about the temperature and the creatures around us, but they are all, like us, part of what makes our world our world. No mud, no lotus.

After speaking with Peter, I marched down the stairs and recorded the first song for the new EP, one of the aforementioned political songs. When I finished, I literally jumped for joy. Once again, I lept from one precipice to another and found safe ground. I don’t need to share the song with anyone (now) but my producer and that’s AOK with me. I’ve done what needed to be done, left the place of despair and found purchase on the other side.

May you feel the fear only until it leads you to jump to the next rock on your journey. Then may you recognize that you have accomplished a great thing – moving down your path of life no matter what obstacles you find along the way. This is our warrior-self and it is good.

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