As we go through life, we accumulate layers of ideas about who we are and what we’re capable of achieving. As these layers accumulate, we tend to become increasingly rigid in our identification with certain views about ourselves and the world around us. Gradually, we lose our connection to the basic openness, clarity, and love that is the essence of our being. Our awareness is overwhelmed by hundreds of different thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Some we latch onto because they’re attractive fantasies or scary preoccupations; some we try to shove away because they’re too upsetting or because they distract us from whatever we’re trying to accomplish at the moment.
Instead of focusing on some of them and pushing away others, though, just look at them as feathers flying in the wind. The wind is your awareness, your inborn openness and clarity. Feathers—the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that pass through our awareness—are harmless. Some may be more attractive than others, some less attractive; but essentially they’re just feathers. Look at them as fuzzy, curly things floating through the air.
As you do so, you begin to identify with the awareness that is watching the feathers and allow yourself to be okay with whatever feathers happen to be flying at the time. You’re accepting them without latching on to them or trying to shove them away. This simple act of acceptance—which may only last a few seconds—offers a taste of that open space of essence love, an acceptance of the warmth that is your basic nature, the heart of your own being.
From Open Heart, Open Mind by Tsoknyi Rinpoche with Eric Swanson © 2012. Reprinted with permission of Harmony Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Illustration by Mike Taylor