This past Tuesday evening I watched the following short, extraordinary video that captures the incredible efforts of an iguana fighting for its survival.
In some sects of Buddhism, hatred, delusion, and greed are referred to as the 3 poisons. Like the venom of these snakes, the poisons enter into our hearts and minds, and when left unattended, gradually bring about a sort of slow, spiritual death. In our case the "snakes" symbolize the conditions of the external world that trigger the release of the venom that already lies within.
Like the iguana, we must make use of the skills we have in order to not let the "snakes" get to us. As illustrated in the video, at times it can feel like they are attacking from all sides, coming at us from every direction, presenting a daunting challenge to navigate.
Symbolically, notice that it was in the middle of this iguana's attempts to escape that it became still, seemingly assessing the situation. But being still wasn't enough; it also had to carefully and quickly make use of its nimble, agile skills to narrowly escape the clutches of the snakes. It took a lot of effort to make its way to higher ground.
Now will be a good time to be still. To recall the teachings as we know them thus far. To remember that suffering arises in our struggle to accept:
1. Not getting what we want
2. Meeting with what we don't want
3. Getting then losing what we want
We also know that suffering arises from the uncertainty of the future, worries yet to be substantiated, and from the past, that which we haven't any control over changing. We can make use of our burgeoning skill of concentration, to find presence of mind in the here and now, abandoning thoughts that lead to fear, hopelessness, and despair, instead replacing them with a cautious optimism, knowing that the future has yet to be written.
Using our developing skills of mindfulness, we remain vigilant, guarding our fragile, vulnerable minds, being sure to not let more venom in, by exercising restraint in choosing what quality of information we entertain, asking ourselves "to what state of mind is the rumination of this information leading?" Not fixating on the shortcomings of others, but rather focusing on our own contributions to the interdependent whole, we strengthen our resolve to think, speak, and act with unconditional loving kindness for all.
When we perceive hatred, intolerance, and discrimination in the color red, we must be sure not to simply paint them in the hue of blue (and vice versa). When the world around us appears to be devoid of loving kindness, wisdom, and compassion, we must be the well from whence they may still spring forth.
With best wishes of peace of mind amidst transitional times...