Listening to a recent conversation on Buddha at the Gas Pump (www.batgap.com), the host, Rick Archer, and guest, Roger Walsh, talked about the ethics that relate to spiritual practice. This got me to thinking about the ethics of many kinds of practice, among them kindness, gratitude, generosity. As I listened to the interview, it seemed to me that an active expression of ethics is inevitably found in the ways we live, how we move through the world, the values we embrace and embody, what we do that relates to what we believe.
As this week’s practice, I invite you to focus on whatever quality speaks to you most powerfully and then explore what values, ethics, and behaviors arise from that quality. For example, if you choose kindness as your focus of the week’s practice, ask yourself what broader values encompass a life expressed with or through kindness. What beliefs and attitudes emerge naturally from expressions of kindness? What everyday behaviors arise within a context of actively expressing kindness. When you bring this exploration into the foreground of your awareness, what’s different in your interactions with others and in the quality of your thoughts about them and yourself? Keep in mind that your relationship to kindness, your ethics and values around this theme, are in addition to acts of kindness. Here, you are exploring how kindness lives in you, how it affects not only your actions but also your thoughts, attitudes, and values.
What if you choose gratitude as the focus of your week’s practice? Other than remembering to express gratitude generally as you move through the world and your daily activities, what do you notice about the impact gratitude practice has on your thoughts, values, beliefs, and judgments?
If you choose something like generosity, notice how generosity resonates with your beliefs and values, with the quality of reality you experience when you are focused on gratitude. Also notice, and this applies to all the various themes you might explore, the impact of the focus of your practice on your body, on the quality of your internal experience.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Rather, this practice underscores the importance of resonating with the quality chosen through all aspects of being rather than limiting it to actions only. It invites an embodied, authentic, integrated expression of the focus of your practice in thoughts, feelings, attitudes, values, beliefs, and physical sensations.
Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything other than notice them.