Responsive, Adaptable, Peaceful
So to be accepting of the way things are does not mean to be passive. It doesn’t mean being numb or uncaring, or to be violent just because such a feeling arises. Rather it is a total caring, but a caring not based on self-view. A caring that is not neurotic or idealistic. It is a caring based on attunement. The hand doesn’t have to decide about whether it cares about your ankle. If you’ve twisted your ankle, your hand will move to massage it. It is the same body. You don’t have to think about it. The body looks after itself.
The caring heart cares for all beings, cares for all things, but that caring manifests in accordance with time and place, situation. It intuits what can be done, what can’t be done. So when the awake mind knows the way things are, then that informs how to respond: Is it time to go outside or is it time to sit still? Is it time to speak up or is it time to be quiet? Is it time to crack a joke or is it time to be serious? We train the heart to be adaptable. It is not blown around by the wind, however, it knows the wind. It accommodates the tugging of the wind. It accommodates it. It knows it. It adapts to it.
…If we have trained the heart to be adaptable, then whether there is engagement or withdrawal, whether there is responsibility or disengagement, the heart will be equally comfortable in all different circumstances. Whether things are quiet or whether they are busy, whether the air is still or wild – the heart which knows them is the same heart.
…The more we develop the refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, the more adaptable, the more responsive the heart will be; comfortable with quietness and stillness and solitude, comfortable with activity and engagement; because the heart that knows stillness and silence is the same as the heart that knows activity and engagement. It is the same heart, the same refuge. The same Buddha, the same Dhamma, the same Sangha.
…In learning these skills, developing these qualities, we can see for ourselves how that enables the heart to be fully at peace in all circumstances. There’s gain and loss, sickness and health, praise and criticism, happiness and unhappiness. The heart is at ease, open, awake, malleable and ready to learn. Whatever each moment’s circumstance brings with it – whatever comes, moment by moment, day by day – the heart is ready to learn from that; it develops wisdom, understanding, on account of that.
These reflections by Ajahn Amaro are adapted from the May 26, 2016 Dhamma article , “Every Thing is Uncertain,” (News and Announcements, Amarvarati Monastery).