I had the good fortune to visit Mindful Harlem last month. This summer, Mindful Harlem's team held space for City Silence at the Harlem Farmer's Market. One of the features of Mindful Harlem is a Saturday class, Drop In and Sit.
Some of us sat in chairs, others of us sat on bolsters on the floor and Adrian Bueno, co-founder, talked to us about doubt before we entered the silence. After a bit, we were guided in a walking meditation, then a body scan, then some mindful movement. We returned to the circle for a conversation. In short, it was awesome!
Here is a bit from Adrian's writing/conversation that morning.
The Two Faces of Doubt
By Adrian Bueno
The Dharma or “teachings” can be seen and heard everywhere and in everything if we pay attention. If we follow the tradition of the clear view, we can apply this to a recent article in the NY Times about philanthropy. It expresses that philanthropy should go after inequality’s causes not just its effects.
This is an interesting subject since is Christmas time and there is a call for giving, a call for what to give, and also a call for what is the intention behind our giving. The practice of Mindfulness is a practice that if it is not approached with a clear understanding and resolute intention, it only tries to fix the effects of our suffering or “Dukkha,” and not its cause. One of the main obstacles to get immersed in this practice is Doubt. Doubt has two faces, one that is embracing since is toward investigating and rediscovering what is true, another paralyzing since it stop us from advancing in this path of liberation.
As the article suggests about philanthropy, we also need to uproot the causes and not the effects of our conditioning. With the extinguishing of paralyzing doubt, we are able to have a clear view and conviction on where we going. The more I practice, I realize that this journey for me is about returning to what I am already, the more that I practice I also realize that the destination is in the process of the practice itself.
I would like to invite you for this sit to approach this practice with no doubt that you are going in the right direction, I would like also for you to have the clear understanding that this is not a self-improving technique outside yourself and see it more as a practice that is realized in community and also to be discovered in silence. This process should not be taken lightly since it is a sacred process where we stop to see our mind’s and nurture our spirit.
Pascal, in one of his gloomier pensees, gave it as his opinion that all our miseries stemmed from a single cause: our inability to remain quietly in a room. He then says one thing alone could alleviate our despair, and that was distraction, yet this was the worst of our misfortunes, for in distraction we were prevented from thinking about ourselves and were gradually brought to ruin.
So here we are once again holding each other hands in community as every Saturday morning, everything else including our minds might be entreating us, but with clear seeing and intention, with kindness and patience, we respond with a silence so that our practice can be heard miles away and resonate on each of our interactions with the world outside this room.
Once again this is our destination, this practice is your destination, who you are is just enough.