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Sometimes Nothing is a Real Cool Hand

My middle daughter a few days ago presented me with a copy of Don’t Take Your Life Personally by Ajahn Sumedho.


“Sounds like a cool book,” she said. “It’s popular among some weirdos.”


She didn’t really say it like that but I read between the lines. I took it to mean that she was aware of my eclectic taste in books. But I digress.


Sumedho grew up in the United States, later journeyed to Thailand and became a Buddhist monk, and eventually was an influential teacher of the Theravada Buddhist tradition in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and elsewhere. The book my daughter gave me is a collection of 5-10 page chapters, transcripts of some of his lectures.


He has an engaging, informal style. One of the passages that struck me included his remarks about the goal or purpose of meditation practice.

Meditation, then, is not paying attention in the sense of ‘ATTENTION!’ like a military command; it is more like learning to be fully engaged with the present. You don’t have to pay attention to anything except this present moment, so there is this general sense of openness and receptivity rather than of striving to get things and controlling the mind.”

AJAHN SUMEDHO, DON’T TAKE YOUR LIFE PERSONALLY, P.106


A general sense of openness and receptivity to the present moment.


My wife and I have had the opportunity to reflect and focus on the moment over the last ten days since she tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, she has endured a relatively mild case of the disease. She wasn’t hospitalized and she retained her independence, her ability to move around under her own power.


My wife has always been a person of great compassion, but in these recent days with our focus on the moment, I believe both of us have experienced the birth of deeper compassion and overriding gratitude for the new lease on life we have received.


For the time being, I hope to live in the moment, to think less about what life may bring tomorrow and more about where love and compassion lead today.

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