Eye of the Hurricane

Ajahn Karuṇadhammo • November 2013

We have a full community once again. With all of the comings and goings, right now there seems to be a confluence of comings—everybody is present within the community for at least a little while. We also have a fairly sizable group of long-term residents, visitors, and guests—more people than we’ve been accustomed to in the past few weeks. Notice the effect of that. Try to keep in mind the sense of being in a community and learning from all the experiences of living with and relating to different people. We work together, make decisions, offer suggestions, receive suggestions, and experience the whole interplay of human interaction. We can reflect on how to do this skillfully and remember the importance of staying centered while in activity, trying not to let the senses be pulled out in different directions. It helps to take a moment and come back to the center of awareness in the body.

Many of us sometimes have a fantasy of being in total solitude and not having to interact with other people. I know I sure do. Or we imagine living in a small community with only one or two other people. However, one of the advantages of living and working together in a sizable community with a fair amount of engagement is the quality of learning that takes place and the understanding we develop when we stay in the center of awareness without being pulled out into many different directions. It’s like being in the eye of a hurricane where there are very strong winds around us—winds that could cause anxiety, fear, disturbance, or agitation. But right in the middle of the storm is the eye where it is very calm and still. We can place ourselves in that center so that we are alert and aware, where our senses are restrained and not moving out. Within this center, there is a receptivity to what’s going on so that we are not totally isolated from the environment. We can respond appropriately, but the attention stays focused, particularly on the body. The body is the best place for maintaining that sense of presence. As we move through the day we can try to stay in the eye of the hurricane.