Podcast Reading, spoken and written by Mathew Brensilver on March the 3rd 2019 at The Insight Meditation Centre, Redwood City, California.
I transcribed this section of Mathew’s Dharma Talk and posted it here as it is a piece of writing that calls me back again and again; to contemplate, to hold and to let sink ever deeper into the part of me that is eternally true.
Sila (Ethics) Reflection
Make of yourself a refuge for all beings. The Buddha enjoins us to cultivate this radical heart. A cultivation expressing not only Sila (Ethics) but also Samadhi (Unification of Mind) and Panyo (Wisdom).
To be safe for others entails a path of self discovery, humility, sensitivity and willingness to be softened by one’s own suffering.
Goodness ripens through a process of letting go and letting go involves a measure of grief.
We grieve the harm done to us and the harm done by us, we grieve the human condition, the indivisibility of life and suffering.
This process is autobiographical, idiosyncratic and universal. To be mindful of goodness brings love, to be mindful of pain also brings love. This asymmetry is the miracle.
The more attuned we are to our heart and its instant karmic reverberations the clearer our ethical life will be. The more unified the mind becomes the deeper the love will be. Boundless, nothing but warmth. The effortless care that is the face of emptiness.
And we learn unwaveringly that hatred is never the last word. Sila [ethics] expresses the entire path. And then we begin again. The story we tell about love is never final, new questions, complexities and debts arise.
Might I know more than I suppose? The ego complicates everything – I want to think of myself as a really good person and I don’t really want to change my behaviour – ethical development stagnates when we rationalise our preferences.
It’s conceivable that goodness entails much more than even we good people are accustomed to giving. Just because the saint is extremely rare, doesn’t mean that anything less, strictly speaking, is justifiable. I can imagine in the not distant future a major reconfiguration of our ethical obligations, to non-human animals, to the egregious suffering of the most vulnerable around the globe and to future generations.
This is a time for radical hearts.
I don’t usually feel up to the task, but I am steadfast in keeping a relationship with my own sense of moral incoherence. From that relationship I hope that I evolve and contribute more of what I owe to the welfare of others.
The path unfolds and then at some point it’s time to die. The final gesture of letting go which is both deeply poignant and also not such a big deal.
Your life was made complete by what you gave away.