How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Benefits of Mindfulness: Mindful Living Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
Tara explores what it means to trust our innate purity, our gold, and how this basic goodness can never be tarnished.
So maybe just a word about my process
in this happening of this book is that
it was really an unintended pregnancy.
You know, over years, I, I've been
asked by many, many people listening to
talks and so on for favorite quotes and
stories that I share, personal stories.
And so Christy and Janet and Barb were
assisting me and just plucking them out.
And so we just figured we'd put
together a kind of compilation
and it was pretty informal.
And I just published Radical Compassion.
And I really thought that was it.
I, I just had no juice for writing
a whole other book, but something
shifted and it's that the theme
of this got clearer and clearer.
What does it really mean to
trust our basic goodness.
Just how incredibly
transformational that is.
I mean, just consider for a moment
if you really trust, you know, the
purity of your heart, the awareness
that's here and see it in each other.
And so that became just very, very much
alive for me and equally compelling.
Seeing the suffering around us.
I don't know if we've ever witnessed
such dangerous levels of mistrust.
And I know, you know what I mean.
In our society and the
violence that comes from it.
So it just felt like, okay, this, this
is we're going to move forward with this.
And Sounds True has been a great publisher
and they found this awesome illustrator.
And those of you that have the book
know, Vicky Alvarez, a deep bow to Vicky.
So it came forth as, as a gift book.
And I wanted to share with you, and
I don't know if I've said this out
loud, that the title alone is really
a part of my day that I, when I am in
some way stuck, when I feel like I've
shrunk, you know, I'm small minded,
sometimes I'll just mutter to myself,
you know, trust the gold, trust the gold.
Because it's it's, my smallness
is coming from some sense
of, you know, not enoughness.
In those moments that I say it, I start
feeling the sincerity that's underneath
and they, my heart gets softer.
It cuts through the trance.
And of course I'm getting ahead of myself.
So I'm going to slow it down.
But I did want to share with you
about the title because it's
like a bit of a mantra for me.
So the organizing story in Trusting
the Gold is one that's captured
my attention over the years
and I've shared it with others.
So many of you are familiar.
Well, I'll review it a little
right now because we'll use the
image of it in our reflections.
And this is the story of an enormous clay
Buddha in, a statue, in Thailand that was
not really handsome or refined looking,
but it had just survived the centuries.
Great storms and changes of government
and invading armies and so on.
And so in the fifties, so
I can't remember what year.
I think it was 56, it started to crack.
And one of the monks was able to look
inside one of these big cracks and
what shined back was the gleam of gold.
And so they took off what
turned out to be clay coverings.
It was not just a clay statue.
And realized it was the largest, most
luminous, gold Buddha in, in the whole,
that whole area of Southeast Asia.
People visit it from all over now.
Many friends of mine have.
So the monks believed that this golden
Buddha had been covered with plaster
and clay to protect it during difficult
years, conflicts and unrest and invading
armies and so on, much in the way that
we humans cover our innate purity.
And we do it so much so, we
cover over to protect ourselves.
The suffering is that when we do, we
forget the gold, we forget our essential
nature, the divine that's shining through.
You know, our tendencies to fixate on
the coverings, on our armoring of defense
and judgment and fear and anger, the ego.
And then we think that's what we are.
And so if the ego is not the problem, it's
we get identified with the ego, like with
a set of waves and forget we're the ocean.
So I love this story, you know.
I love it because it shows us both our
suffering, how we forget who we are.
We go into a trance of just
believing limited stories about
ourselves and each other, of course.
And the potential, that as those
coverings become more transparent
through meditation and through
presence, the gold shines through.
So here's the thing that
suffering wouldn't be suffering
if it weren't really strong.
If there weren't some very deep, pervasive
ways that the coverings were sticky,
that we got stuck on them, that we got
stuck feeling that something's wrong.
You know, I've talked for years about
that, that sense of, that pervasive sense
of falling short, of being unworthy,
unlovable, flawed, really mistrust.
And I've shared, you know, my
own personal story of how stuck
I've been in, in the coverings.
You know, striving to improve
myself and judging myself and so on.
And Radical Acceptance, actually,
my first book was really
about recognizing that trance.
And I'll never forget being on book
tour, cause I'm thinking of it now.
Virtual book tours are so much easier.
I get to stay home and still speak
to people in London and LA and so on.
So I remember the first book tour
and I was in Colorado at Naropa.
It's a Buddhist college there.
They a huge poster of me announcing
my Radical Acceptance book and my
workshop that I was doing there.
And they had a big picture of me.
And the caption at the bottom
was, "something is wrong with me."
And, you know, because that was the
theme I was talking about so much.
It was just an interesting way to be
welcomed to a new community, you know.
But I've seen in myself
and this is decades ago.
I've seen in myself and in other
long-term practitioners, and in so many
of us how deep the conditioning is.
So that even now, even on a day,
today, I can catch the thoughts
and the feelings that have some
undercurrent of falling short.
Forgetting the gold.
I would say one description of
spiritual life is we still forget.
We still remember,
forget, remember, forget.
There's less lag time.
We catch ourselves faster, which
saves precious moments, of course.
So the shift from believing
limiting stories about ourselves
and others to trust in the gold
really is the shift to freedom.
It's a shift to true happiness.
And the question I get over and over
again is through, through the decades,
is how come the mistrust is so pervasive?
You know, how come so many of
us feel unlovable or unworthy
or like we're falling short?
And so just to speak for a
little bit about the grounds of
mistrust and you might reflect
as I speak just to your own life.
Just sensing the forces that might have
shaped for you that kind of prison,
where you get caught in not okay.
Or you get caught in, in being
fixated on others not being okay.
So the ground level of mistrust is
really in our universal psycho biology.
It's built in because every
organism emerges with a perception
of being separate and then it
organizes around self-defense.
So the primal mood of the
separate self is fear.
Now there's, if you're moving through life
and you have some sense of I'm separate
and others are out there, there's going
to be fear that somethings can go wrong.
Because when we don't feel
connected, we feel fearful.
And our survival brains, all creatures
have this, have a negativity bias.
In other words, our attention
fixates on what can go wrong.
And that means that every creature
you encounter, you know, the next
person, tree, a dog, a squirrel,
frog, they have the equipment
that's alerting them the threats.
And that's that's primo.
And so with humans, because we're, we have
so much, you know, these sophisticated
cognition and we're self-aware, we go
from something's wrong or something's
going to go wrong to I am wrong.
Something's wrong with me.
Or you're wrong.
Something's wrong with you.
In other words, we have attribution.
I hope that makes sense cause that's
a really important piece that we're
all rigged to sense that fear around,
what's around the corner, you know,
something's going to go wrong.
But with humans, it tends to
land on ourselves and others.
We feel flawed.
And you can see this basic sense
of flawedness or badness in
our Western creation mythology.
It's like blatant, you know.
We got kicked out of Eden.
We were impure.
I ran across recently a
cartoon from way, way back.
A monk is in a monastery and
he's writing affirmations.
He's writing the same
thing over a hundred times.
And what he's writing is,
celibacy is not so bad.
Celibacy is not so bad.
And here we are, you know.
We're, we come from our creation
myths saying we're impure
and we've got to watch out.
So building on that, in our individual
lives, you know, our degree of mistrust
of ourselves will depend on how our
caregivers attune to and met our basic
needs, to be understood, to be loved,
to be taken care of, to be safe.
So if these needs were not
met, there's a sense of severed
belonging, like the world's a
undependable, untrustworthy place.
And then as we grow, it's because
of me, something's wrong with me.
And you see it again and again in
children that were sexually abused.
That even though it was an adult
abusing them, there's a deep,
deep belief that I'm flawed.
It happened because
something is wrong with me.
It's very sad that that's the way
our minds go, but that's how it is.
So through our childhood, caregivers
communicated the conditions we needed
to meet, to be accepted and loved.
And of course, there were some parents
that are more unconditionally loving, but
many of us had standards we had to meet.
And what it may meant was we couldn't
trust our natural selves because
we had to meet those standards.
And if you want to understand better,
well, what were those, what were you
kind of trying to meet and how did
mistrust happen, just start reflecting.
Maybe you can do for a few moments
now and even write it down.
You know, what were you rewarded for?
You know, what was the message?
Be like this ___. How did your
caregivers, parents wants you to be?
How did they want your behavior to be?
How did they want you to look?
How did they want you to
move through the world?
What did they want from
you in terms of success?
And you can also ask,
what was I judged for?
What were, how were they looking
at me through eyes that, you know,
that didn't like what I was doing?
What did I get punished for?
Don't be like this.
For so many, don't be so loud or you're
too sensitive or you're too needy
or you're too anxious or you're in
my way or you're not doing enough.
You know, you don't look the way I
want you to look that reflects how I
want my, my expression of self to be
in my extended expression of self.
You're not achieving the
way I had hoped, you know.
So what are the messages.
And of course we know the more criticism,
the more neglect, the more abuse,
the more mistrust of self and other.
So again, what we're doing is just
looking at the forces that lock us into
not trusting ourselves, our goodness.
And then of course, it's
amplified and shaped in the
biggest way by our societies.
I love this phrase that you don't
think your own thoughts, your,
your thinking society's thoughts.
That all of our ideas about how our
bodies should be, how our look should
be, how our emotions should be, what
success looks like, our basic worth
and value, it's been fed to us.
These are standards that have been
fed to us and they're fed to us by
society every day in many, many ways.
And our societies don't offer
a natural way of belonging.
It's not like you just, it's not like a
free pass that you belong to community.
We don't have easy belonging to the earth.
So we have to meet those standards.
It's a big deal.
So this is, this is Dave Barry on
it because some of the standards
have to do with gender and how we
should be in our supposed gender.
And for him, male, be a certain way.
And he describes, he says this,
he says being puny all his
life is painful for a male.
He said, I totally missed
the boat to puberty island.
I was this little hairless dweeb
with a voice in the Pinocchio range.
One day, my mom, bless her
heart, had a talk with me.
She told me the girls were not
interested only in looks, that
the qualities that really mattered
were brains and a sense of humor.
That little talk was long ago,
but it taught me an invaluable
life lesson I've never forgotten.
Moms lie when they have to.
Now he goes on, he talks about the,
the suffering of not meeting the
kind of machismo standard for males.
And he just says, I'll
just share one more piece.
He says, men, you know how,
when your wife can't open a
pickle jar, she gives it to you.
And you're supposed to smile
in a manly, patronizing way as
you effortlessly twist it open.
That's not what happened in our house.
What happens is after a grim struggle
lasting several minutes, I wind up lying
on the kitchen floor, exhausted and
whimpering while the pickle jar, unopened
laughs and flirts boldly with my wife.
So it's fun.
And we know the suffering that comes
from a society that reinforces and
rewards, in this case, expressions
of male dominance and aggression.
We also know the horrific suffering
that comes from a society that turns
women's bodies, men's too, but women's
bodies into objects that need to meet
certain criteria for attractiveness.
And I was looking at
some of the statistics.
I just want to share a few because
they kind of oh, they really got me.
This one is that by age 13, 53%
of American girls are unhappy
with their bodies and it grows to
78% by the time girls reach 17.
78% of our female teens
don't like their bodies.
Now I know for myself, I
started dieting at age 12.
You know, Twiggy was the rage.
And I remember drinking
strawberry Carnation Slender
breakfast drinks, you know.
And I just read an, in the statistics,
another one, a survey of ages nine to
ten now, 40% are trying to lose weight.
Of our nine to ten year olds.
There's huge suffering around body shame.
We're talking about mistrust and not
liking who we are and how the society
shapes that in such a painful way.
And then of course, it
shapes it with intelligence.
I, I so often think about, we
have these rigid standards.
Children are supposed to have
this left brain intelligence.
And, you know, I feel such sense
of sorrow at the numbers of bright,
creative, young people that just have
a different kind of intelligence,
but go through our schools feeling
they're flawed, they're not smart.
And, you know, cause the different
kind of intelligence is being rewarded.
The most toxic fuel for
distrusting self and other comes
from our dominance hierarchies.
These are the way our societies
have caste systems based on race,
on classism, you know, sexism.
And these casts systems, these
hierarchies separate us, and you cannot
see the gold when you feel different.
When you feel above or below,
you can't see the goal.
And the message of inferiority when
that for the non-dominant populations
and endangerment, it creates a mistrust
of self and a mistrust of the world.
And it also creates separation,
insecurity for the higher, for the
higher ranked because then they're
driven to maintain their position.
And that's what we're watching with the
violence of white supremacy right now.
You have to terrorize blacks to keep
them down is the, the notion, you know.
So here we are.
And it's the probably the most
polarized times I can imagine
that, at least in my lifetime.
And fear disconnects us from the heart.
We're unable to see the intrinsic
value in fellow beings when we really
disagree and when we're so polarized,
there's mistrust and fear on all sides.
So we're coming down to the central
theme again, that we've never so
desperately needed pathways to
building trust, to remembering, you
know, the fundamental value of all
beings, including our own being.
So this is our work, friends.
This is our work.
You know, that namaste, that the more
of us that can intentionally be looking
towards the goodness in ourselves and
each other and start waking up that
trust, the more healing for our world.
You know, I'm thinking about Einstein.
You know, another mystic scientist
and one of the questions, I mean, one
of his statements that he made that
I come back to over and over again
is that he said that I think the most
important question facing humanity
is, is the universe a friendly place?
This is the first and most basic question
people must answer for themselves.
Many of, you know, this quote.
You know, Einstein believed there's a
fundamental benevolence in our universe.
And his, he claimed in his writings
that if we trust that, it'll give
rise to activity that actually serves
our collective understanding and
peace and wellbeing, if we trust it.
So you might just ask yourself
right now, you know, we know all the
ignorance and cruelty and horrors.
Do you sense a fundamental benevolence?
Love or goodness in the universe
underneath a gold that's, that
can permeate the coverings that
sometimes gets shadowed by them.
You can think on that.
You know, I remember I was giving
a talk on this, this very question.
The first time I think I brought it up,
my, it was during a time when my mother
was living with my husband and me and
she'd drive back and forth to class
with me on Wednesday night and be there.
Then, you know, I'd give a talk and
then on the way home we'd discuss it.
So I was talking about this, how
in many spiritual traditions and in
my own experience, there is a basic
goodness that lives through all of us.
And that meditation helps
us contact it and trust it.
Even when it's covered over
the gold is here, you know?
So this is, this is what
I was talking about.
So on the ride home, my mom was a
Barnard student, a philosophy major,
and she really loved challenging me.
So she just launches right in
as soon as we get in the car.
So where's the base of goodness in
racism and in capital punishment
and humans destroying our earth?
You know what makes good
this more basic than badness?
That was her.
That was her question.
And maybe some of you are wondering that.
It's a natural thing to ask, you know.
Why is goodness, more fundamental?
So, you know, we tussled a bit as
we did, but I completely agree.
There's, there's no conceptual proof.
And I did say that in my life, and
increasingly, there was a direct
experience that I could see the coverings.
I could see all the ways that we humans
get scared and act out in horrible ways
and really sense to underneath whatever
coverings that there is a goodness.
There's life, loving life.
There's a sentience.
There is a divine that can shine through.
And I also share something with her
that I hadn't named out loud before.
That even when I'm not directly
experiencing that, and even when I'm
kind of caught up, it's still a choice.
It's a choice and an intention to live
as if loving awareness or the gold
is our deepest essence, to assume it.
In my experience, and I'm really
pragmatic, you know, I, I figure, well,
if assuming something helps me, then
I'm going to assume it as much as I can.
Turning towards that, assuming it,
now looking towards the goodness.
It always, it ends up feeling
like a homecoming, like then
it actually calls it forth.
And I do feel then that kind of
resonance, like this really is true.
So I shared that with her, that even
if there's no conceptual proof that
there's a basic goodness and love in
this universe, it's my perception.
And assuming it really helps in my life.
And I just want to share with you that
for all her sparring, and believe me,
if she was in her grave right now,
she'd say, yeah, but what if, you know.
During her final years, she lived
in that spirit of trusting the gold.
And I'll just never forget at
her memorial, how much everybody
said, you know, being around
her, I felt better about myself.
Her listening and her
acceptance and kindness.
It helped other people trust their
goodness, which was something that
was actually true throughout her life.
But it became even more kind
of purified as she got older.
So she was living as if too.
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