The final lines of the poem are a good place to start. They are a good reminder of what the buddhadharma teaches about the nature of practice and our lives: Everywhere life is sufficient in its way. That “everywhere” truly is everywhere. Every time, every place, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s a difficult teaching to accept, especially when we find ourselves in a place rife with destruction, horror and problems. Yet this is not a conditional statement. This is sufficient. This is complete. There is no need to look for an alternative.
It’s a radically positive statement—a statement that underlines the radically positive nature of the teachings Buddhism extends to us. Life is not just workable; it’s not just toil or something to get through. Anything and everything that is our life is essentially affirming, positive. Wherever it is that we find ourselves, there is the possibility of practice. There is the possibility of realizing the intrinsic clarity and beauty, the capacity to love and be loved, the capacity to relate to this world in a way that transforms and verifies that completeness.
From the perspective of what the Buddhist teachings are offering us, we’re continuously facing an all-encompassing yes. Practice is predicated on that all-encompassing yes, or it’s at least dependent on our willingness to look for that yes, as it sometimes hides behind the barrier of problems, behind our justifications and excuses, behind our impulse to cry out, “Stop! This is not workable anymore. We have reached the edge of reasonability.” This yes is unreasonable. And yet it is continuously accessible within any expression of practice—however small it might be. When we turn our minds and are willing to consider the possibility that here, too, amidst this difficulty, facing this barrier, the reality of selflessness, freedom, compassion and wisdom is already waiting for us.
Practice starts precisely where we find ourselves, which for many of us is quite frequently a place of heartbreak, suffering, alienation and doubt. But it is precisely there, within those circumstances, that we start. We say, “Yes. I will sit down.” I will sit down as my heart is breaking. I will say yes to that. Practice will reveal to us that there is already a sanctuary waiting for us. It will reveal to us, progressively and ultimately, that within the willingness to open and turn toward ourselves completely, we’ll find the conditions of reality utterly reliable.