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Bansky 2015

Bansky 2015

 

By Ty Phillips

Cleveland winters are harsh—really harsh.

We don’t have the coldest temperatures, nor the most snowfall, or the most wind, but the duration of all three of these factors puts Cleveland on the map every year for having some of the worst winters. What makes them worse is the duration of cold and frigid weather.

Winter starts in November here and it has been known to snow up until May. The cold and the gray leave the city with high depression rates, and the salt and plowing leave a large toll on the infrastructure. The salt rusts and corrodes the cars, bridges and roads, and the plowing destroys what must be paved fresh every year.

These methods are not unlike how we deal with ourselves.

We want fast results. We want the ability to go from point A to point B with as little resistance as possible and we pay little heed to the methods that we will use in order to get there. We find ourselves motivated by guilt, plagued by fear, and we make drastic decisions in order to continue the honeymoon feeling of starting on a spiritual path.

These methods leave our psyche much like the salting and plowing leaves our roads. They are chipped and broken and in need of constant repair. The notion of gradual acceptance seems scary. We want instant gratification and we often get there with reckless abandon.

When we are finally faced with a problem—and they always come—we are little prepared for how to deal with them. We decide there must be a quick fix and we look outside of ourselves for the magic pill or the magic guru to help us.

Our potholes keep growing.

Our reflection is rimmed with guilt, doubt and more than a little bitterness in a path we have chosen that hasn’t left us free of all pain and suffering. We don’t yet realize that we have paid little heed to the path, and instead given all our attention to distraction and ritual. Still uncertain of the solitude that is needed; we find that the stir of silence is where learning takes place.

We sit for a few uncomfortable minutes and the potholes come in to view. Why ask ourselves why we have them? We make assumptions that we are on the wrong path; it’s time to try another one instead. The notion of everything we need being already here eludes us and guilt and fear start to sing and sway us away with a new temptation.

When we are ready to sit, we realize that the potholes are fixed judgments that we hold about ourselves.

We must be wrong, we must be dirty, guilty, unworthy and the solution to all of this is out there somewhere. We salt and plow some more, hoping that another drastic method will purify us of doubt, fear and feebleness.

The salvation ‘out there’ never comes though. We find beautiful distraction again and again and within a few short months, our potholes are exposed.

There is more work to be done.

The solution to fixing the pothole is not to avoid it though. It is climbing right in, sitting down, getting comfortable with the state of how things are right here and right now.

The salt and the plow are like a mirror of our grasping thought patterns; our death-like grip, our assumptions that demand security within a state of constant flux. When we stop looking for distraction—when we stop being motivated by fear and doubt—we realize that the pothole wasn’t really a hole. It was a valley—one filled with wild flowers and clear streams.

This reality was corroded with the salt and the plowing, yet when we stop, it becomes visible once again.

We sit. We just sit.

Aware, comfortable with our discomfort, and we start to relax.

We stop needing an out there, and find a beautiful silence in here. This valley makes way to beautiful mountain peaks and more flowered and fertile valleys.

We start to walk from now on.

We leave the salt and the plow behind and in our footsteps there isn’t a damaged and broken road, but a flowering meadow of experience and wisdom.

 

Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Ty Phillips

Ty Phillips is the co-founder and director of The Tattooed Buddha. A former big city bouncer, now pacifist Buddhist minister, and writer he spends his time counseling youth and hard to reach adults in peaceful and engaged means. Using his past as an example, he is able to engage those who would otherwise probably not seek out and relate to dharma teachers. Ty is a contributing author for The Good Men Project, Rebelle, BeliefNet, Patheos and The Petoskey News. He is a long term Buddhist and a lineage holder, as well as a father to three amazing girls and a tiny dog named Fuzz. You can see his writing at The Good Men Project, BeliefNet, Rebelle Society.
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