There’s so much in life that’s out of our control: the last twelve months has shown us that. Yet we can surf the ‘worldly winds’ without losing our confidence, direction and sense of purpose. Focusing on the worldly winds, or lokadhammas, we will explore how life throws us about by four pairs of opposites in our lives, many of which were especially prevalent for us all during 2020:
pleasure and pain
gain and loss
praise and blame
fame and infamy
When things go our way do we feel positive and elated? When they don't, do we grow negative and despondent? How much do we get blown about by the large or the very small daily circumstances of our lives? How do we respond when someone praises us? What is our response when we feel blamed for something? Are we attached to our gains but struggle against our losses? Do we crave the pleasant experiences in life and resist the unpleasant? What can we do about it?
The Buddha teaches that, if we are attached to things being a certain way, we will experience difficulty when they change. As impermanence and change are inevitable in life, it is helpful - and a relief - for us to realise that we won't be able to make the world exactly as we want it. We can, however, develop a broader perspective, allowing us to experience more steadiness, consistency and robustness in our moods, emotions and thoughts.
Instead of letting our habitual patterns control us, we can live our lives with an attitude of curiosity, exploring these pairs of opposites. We can notice how our responses colour our perception of reality. We can't avoid the ups and downs of life, but we can learn practical ways to recognise how they 'hook' us, and then respond to them with greater awareness and creativity.
As we look at the Buddha's teachings on love, generosity, contentment, truthfulness and awareness, we will see how these can transform our lives, helping us to grow in wisdom, compassion and equanimity.
We will develop practical strategies for coping with the worldly winds through meditation, led reflections, talks, discussions and workshops. There will also be some periods of silence.