If you’re reading this here in November 2020, you’re seeking the freedom from suffering that Siddhartha Gautama found on Bodhi Day about 2500 years ago. This Enlightenment isn’t really that hard to find, especially around the Holiday Season we’re just entering. Most have experienced this, at least for a minute or two. You may even find Enlightenment this Bodhi Day, but it usually vaporizes as you resume your normal life.
For our Enlightenment to be resilient beyond Bodhi Day, we must have the space in our minds to see all paths available to us, 100% acceptance of the present, the willingness to let go of things, and the courage to fearlessly flow into the future.
Resilience is the fundamental quality of a process. A non-resilient process is just a fleeting spark. Our minds are a process which lives within the process of Life on Earth. Life on Earth lives within the Process that is the Universe. Our brains, muscles, and immune system are resilient processes.
Long ago, I naively asked my judo sensei, “What is the single most important skill for a judoka?” It’s a question I would not ask today. I now know that arts are a multi-faceted assemblage and balance of qualities where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nonetheless, out of kindness, he humored me with a quick reply: “Flexibility.” Not strength, not tenacity, not even skill.
Flexibility is a critical quality built into resilient processes. Flexibility is what keeps us from breaking so we may fight another day. But to fight another day, we need to do more than just not break under pressure. We need to spring back. And better than before, which would otherwise be foolish.
Is it right to say resilience means coming back better than before? What does “better” mean in a Universe of constant change? Life on Earth is resilient. Humanity can assault Life on Earth all we want, but Nature will come back. It may not “come back” within our lifetimes nor in a way still suitable for human life, but it will come back.
When we break a bone, it heals stronger at the break than it was before. When we engage in a sport new to us, those proverbial “muscles we didn’t know we had” will ache the next day, but they will be stronger the next week.
Although as a software developer, I see software systems of today as brittle, to an end-user, software is resilient because when it breaks, you call Support and people fix it. The software should be more fit than it was before it broke. Resilience is built into the process of incorporating software into our lives.
So far, we’re talking about reactive adaptations. We don’t know there is a problem until something breaks. We humans have a Gift of Sentience, whereby there’s more.
Courage and Curiosity
Our resilience is exercised when we are courageous enough to leave the comfort of what we know. Curiosity nudges us if we’re reluctant to turn the page.
In a Universe of relentless change, we could use our Gift of Sentience to make a stand in the present, building walls our little world, all while it crumbles as the river of change flows relentlessly by. Or we can use our Gift of Sentience to proactively adapt.
Our Gift of Sentience is the ability to design, to manipulate the actual Universe towards what is in our minds. This Gift is a double-edged sword. Our Gift of Sentience is God-like to your dog or cat. However, when we are too enamored with our own vision and the ability to manipulate the world around us, we suffer when we don’t get exactly what we want.
Resilience is balancing our courage and curiosity so we can freely dive into the future, artfully and mindfully, applying our Gift of Sentience. Courageously diving into the future means to not cling to our addictions. Artfully and responsibly applying our Gift of Sentience also requires letting go of our addictions so we can adapt to the ever-changing Now.
Bodhi Day 2020
Today, November 8, means Bodhi Day, December 8, 2020, is one month away! Did you think about your Bodhi Day plans?
And Happy Diwali to my Indian friends next week, on November 14, 2020. I will turn on the colorful lights surrounding my home office window that day.
Faith and Patience,
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku