Whatever You Meet Is the Path

Practice of the Week
Whatever You Meet is the Path

Category: Slogans to Live By: Practices for everyone to keep in mind and pay attention to. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time. Just have the intention to grow stronger in each of these areas as you go about your day, and sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling. The titles of these practices are guiding slogans to live by.

Whatever happens, good or bad, make it part of your spiritual practice. This practice sums up such earlier practices as "Live in Patience," "Turn All Mishaps Into the Path," "Stop Blaming," "Be Grateful to Everyone," "Put It In (the Ultimate) Context," and "Do Good, Avoid Evil, Appreciate Your Lunacy, Pray for Help." If you're following those practices, then you're seeing that whatever you meet is the path.

In spiritual practice, which is our life, there are no breaks and no mistakes. We human beings are always doing spiritual practice, whether we know it or not. You may think that you lost the thread of your practice, that you had been going along quite well and then life got busy and complicated and you lost track of what you were doing. You may have been embarrassed about this, felt bad about it, and that feeling fed on itself, and it became harder and harder to get back on track. And you think you are very far from your best intentions.

But this is just what you think. It's not what's going on. Once you begin practice -- or even just begin thinking about your practice -- you always keep going, because everything is practice, even the days or the weeks or the months or decades or entire lifetimes when you forgot to meditate, forgot to pay attention to your spiritual thoughts and exercises. Even then you're still practicing, because it's impossible to be lost. You are constantly being found whether you know it or not.

To practice the slogan, "Whatever You Meet is the Path," to memorize it, to repeat it to yourself again and again, to bring it up in meditation, to post it on your refrigerator, to keep it in mind, is to know that no matter what is going on, no matter how distracted you think you are, no matter how much you feel like a terribly lazy individual who has completely lost track of her good intentions and is now hopelessly astray -- even then you are on the path and you have the responsibility and the ability to take all of that negative chatter and turn it into the the path.

For Journaling

#1. Describe something in the last 24 hours that you didn't like -- about yourself or about someone else or about something that happened to you. Then write about how this was part of your path.

#2. Describe something in the last 24 hours that you really appreciated -- about yourself or about someone else or about something that happened to you. Then write about how this was part of your path.

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from Judith Lief, "Whatever You Meet Unexpectedly, Join with Meditation," Tricycle.

When our lives are going relatively smoothly and predictably it is easier to maintain our mindfulness. But when things are happening fast, it is hard to remember to join what we encounter with meditation. It is also easier to think of others if we ourselves are not currently either in the midst of some crisis or caught up in some amazing opportunity. But it seems that no matter how hard we try to stay on an even keel, we keep being blindsided by unexpected events.

According to this slogan, taking an attitude of compassion and awareness does not need to be some formal or long drawn-out process. It can be done in an instant, in the tiny gap that occurs at the very moment we are surprised by something unexpected, whether positive or negative. Of course, that is the same point where we are most apt to “lose it.”

When we are at that point of just about to lose it, before we have gone into reaction mode or dragged out our usual arsenal of habits, we can pause. We can interrupt that momentum. Instead of joining whatever we meet with our bundle of preconceptions, self-absorptions, fixed views, and programmed responses, we can immediately join it with meditation. We can insert awareness and compassion.

Throughout the slogan teachings, we keep being reminded that each and every situation is an opportunity for growth and awakening. To take advantage of such opportunities, we need to keep expanding the boundaries of our meditation to include more and more aspects of our life. By cultivating an attitude of ongoing mindfulness, by becoming genuine practitioners, it is as if we create a well of loving-kindness and awareness that we can tap even in the midst of sudden changes and challenges.


In order to join experience and meditation, it is helpful to begin by noticing when that does not happen. So today’s practice is to pay attention to “losing it.” Strangely, simply seeing such moments more clearly, without too much judgment or commentary, is a way to extend an attitude of practice more consistently and deeply into our ongoing activities.

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For list of all weekly practices: "Spiritual Practice Directory"

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