Weekly Reading Topic for August 10, 2019: Be True
Well, good morning, love!
I just opened a Reading for you, my newsletter subscribers and here’s what I heard in answer to the following:
What do my readers most need to hear this weekend? What is the most important message to send to my beloved readers?
The answer was: “Be True”
I am surprised that I was asked to write about one of my meditation sessions this week. I normally don’t see my own stuff in Readings, so I’m crossing my fingers that it serves you as much as it served me at the time. And if it doesn’t, my apologies. 💖
What follows is your Weekly Reading.
Weekly Reading │ Be True
Q: What do you mean, “be true?”
A: Don’t you love it when the answer to your question is something trite, something pat, something OBVIOUS like “be true?”
Isn’t it kind of a letdown, a disappointment? Don’t we want something more profound, something more complex, something that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker?
Yes, it is, and yes, we do. And yet, this is what I’m being given. The answer this week is “Be True.”
And when we look at it more closely, maybe it’s not so bumper-stickery. Maybe it is more billboard material.
Maybe this is sky-writing material.
Because when you hear “Be True,” it means one of two things:
1. You aren’t being true to yourself (or to others).
2. Others aren’t being true to YOU, and you need to buck up and strengthen your resolve.
All of us reading this message this weekend actually fall into both categories. All of us in some way have not been True to ourselves, and all of us are experiencing a failure of truth in our daily lives.
It’s tough when someone else is not true. When someone lies, or gouges, or takes advantage. It feels bad and wrong, and distractingly upsetting. And if we have anything other than the firm ground under our feet, it can knock us over.
Even when it keeps happening, over and over.
Something about this weird time we’re living through that’s good to keep in mind on a DAILY basis is this:
When things fall apart, the things that are True tend to remain intact. The things that are lies, or built out of jerry-rigged materials, are the ones that fall away or crumble, or cave.
The things that are True are often small, hard, and shiny, blinking at us through the dust of the rubble pit.
And we have to reach down, and pick them up, and recognize them for the precious things they are.
Want Your Weekly Reading Delivered to Your Inbox Every Saturday Morning?
I’m being guided to give you an accounting of what happened to me the other morning in meditation. I sat for my customary 20-minute session, settling myself on my cushion, the morning sun hard and hot on my back despite the shade being pulled. I breathed, slowly, and let my mind relax, and asked to be shown anything that needed to happen.
And instantly it came to me that I needed a Metta meditation, loosely translated, a Loving Kindness meditation. Essentially, this meditation from Theravāda Buddhism recognizes that all of us want to be safe, happy, well, comfortable, and at ease. And so we spend some time in meditation deliberately wishing that for everyone.
I started with myself, as is the practice. I wished for my own safety, happiness, health, comfort, and freedom. Then I wished the same for my husband, whom I love very much. Then I moved on to a “neutral” person, someone I know but don’t have strong feelings for. I chose my dry cleaner.
Next, I had to wish someone I DON’T like health, safety, happiness, comfort, and ease. This is, of course, the hard part. I have to trick myself. I have to think things like “how would it benefit me, or the world, if this person felt safe, healthy, happy, comfortable, and at ease?”
That morning I chose someone who takes up a lot of oxygen on the world stage right now. And right when I started rationalizing sending him goodwill and kindness by thinking about how much safer ALL of us would be if he were happy, if he were healthy, if he were comfortable, and safe, and at ease, I heard the following words:
“He has something for you, and you have something for him, and you should exchange those so you can let go of each other.”
I had no idea what this meant, but when I turned my attention back to this person, he was, in my mind, standing in front of me with a blue box from Tiffany! He opened it and showed me a gigantic ring, studded with diamonds, sparkly, ridiculously huge. It made me giggle to see it.
“That’s not an engagement ring, is it?” I asked, and he said, “no, it’s your attention.”
I shit you not, that’s what he said.
So I took the ring from him and held it up to my face to see it. It was stunning, and I felt a sense of clarity and calm I haven’t felt in, well, in years.
So I asked what I had of his, and he gestured toward my belly and said “all that beautiful clean coal.”
And I laughed again, but only for a second, because next I felt a pain in every joint, in every organ, and felt completely vomitous, as if I were literally going to vomit hard black, shiny coal. And in this vision, that is exactly what I did next. For minutes, I watched and felt as I released tons of coal, first into a bag he held, next into a dump truck he called over, and finally, into a pit that opened up under his feet. And he stood there as the coal rained down, holding up his hands, joyfully receiving what I now understood to be the attention I had given him for the last four years.
Letting that coal go left my body feeling empty, and alone, and somehow, ME. It felt odd, like I’d forgotten who I was for a while. Like I was coming out of a dream state.
And then he was gone, swallowed up in his coal pit and somehow disappeared by the power of the loving-kindness meditation, which suddenly resumed, with a great deal of tenderness, as I genuinely wished him well.
The last stage of the Metta meditation is to wish all sentient beings everywhere health, happiness, safety, comfort, and ease.
And when I am Being True, I know that is exactly what I truly wish.
I wish that all beings everywhere, are healthy, are happy, are safe, comfortable, and at ease. I wish all beings freedom.
Because if that were true for everyone, our world would be a very lovely, very different place.
And here’s the thing: In order to Be True, I must know what I most want. I must know what that means FOR ME.
I feel like this week’s message, Be True, has been building in my life over the last week. And that image of trading tons of coal for the inexplicably compressed diamonds that coal becomes over eons — that image is so critical to my understanding of what Be True means.
It means that you give up the junk coal that is not at all clean. You give up the dirt and put it back where it belongs.
And you take the relatively tiny jewels the Earth offers you, and you wear them and use them. They come when you are ready to give up the junk.
And once you have that clear, calm presence, you can make Real Decisions about how to use your time, your money, your words, the power you DO have.
I wish my wishes could change the outer world. I wish I could make it all better, and quickly. But that’s not the way things work, and wishing for things that will never happen is a waste of time and energy — and worse, it’s irresponsible.
When I work against what’s Really Happening Out There, it’s like pushing a boulder up a hill. Why do it? What’s the point? My strength, skills, intellect, and ATTENTION have better uses.
We need to acknowledge what we WANT, and work toward it, all while navigating these huge piles of coal other people leave (and we leave).
So this weekend, practice this discernment. What’s coal, what’s diamonds? What’s worth sending back, what do you keep? What is being held for you by the “other?” What do you have of theirs?
When you take back what is yours, and keep only what you is Really True for You, your freedom increases multitudinously. You increase your power. You increase your impact.
Because truly, if we were all happy, free, safe, comfortable, free and at ease, the world WOULD be a better place.
You may not be able to force others to be all those things (or even any of those things). But you can allow YOURSELF to be those.
You can relax, receive support, return the coal, and take the diamonds that are offered. And if you don’t think that your health, happiness, freedom, safety, and comfort doesn’t have an impact on anyone else, I’m here to assure you: it does.
There are so many blessings for all of us when we Be True.
I am always here to serve in any way I can.
Much Love to You,
PS: Thank you for sharing this with anyone who could use it!
PPS: Metta meditation is a simple practice designed to cultivate unconditional love. Remember, Buddhism is the only religion without a God, which is why its practices feel so universal to all faiths. If you do it every day, I promise, your life will get better, in weird and unexpected ways. There are endless places to learn about it, but Sharon Salzberg’s explanations always help me.
Want Your Weekly Reading Delivered to Your Inbox Every Saturday Morning?