The Catholic Cathedrals in Italy were beautiful, and learning details of those stories showed me that GRACE is maintaining your self/values despite suffering. It’s like the word METTLE, meaning “the ability to meet a challenge or persevere under demanding circumstances; determination or resolve.” It’s human to lose ourself in reaction, and the growth out of that is our path forward. The Buddhist 5 hindrances is a convenient list of common reactions; in my words: indulgence, anger, depression, anxiety, confusion. Personally, I typically react with anxiety because of the personality that formed from my own upbringing, genetics and past lives (i.e. nature vs. nurture) to various degrees. But I do fall into the others, and in the past month have felt some frustration (a shade of anger) a few times. Noticing myself when that happens is a kind of “observation-meditation” (often labeled vipassana), and is basically just being mindful/present (sati). One universal observation is that we tend to lose ourselves more often when we have less extra space or energy before we reach our limit, for example when we are sick, in pain, exhausted, sleepy, or generally when we are suffering. Those are the demanding circumstances that test our mettle, and that’s when we can put extra effort into being present and perhaps reach a state of grace. When we meditate we similarly face a demanding circumstance, and it can be the exact same thing like an injury that captures our attention. But beneath those layers there’s a fundamental conflict we must face and resolve: how content are you willing to be right now? Ultimately we can go beyond grace into glory, but we have to be wiling to give up our self and trust in Nature/God/the whole.

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