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  • Parisa Rose

Anything can be a path to awakening

(Find the Big Lebowski references!)

What if a wiser person -- much wiser than I -- told you that anything can be a path to awakening?

Well… Sometimes, there’s a movie...

A couple years ago, I wrote this post on how even watching movies can be a practice, and a path to awakening. I’m well aware of the dangers of such a declaration. The popularity of that post should have maybe been alarming. (Unless the clicks were just in response to the glorious image of the Dude standing in his robe in the dairy aisle? In which case, I will relax.) If not, was I inviting people to abandon any effort in their growth and just watch TV instead?

Today, I forgive myself for any harm I may have caused and attempt to further explain my outlandish argument.

I do maintain that anything can be a path to awakening, which simply means anything can be a means to practise awareness skills (develop mindfulness), recognize and let go of clinging and aversion, cultivate positive qualities like equanimity, compassion, kindness, and sympathetic joy, and eventually lead to liberation from the tug-of-war of the mind.

That being said, I would never dream of suggesting to someone new to the path to skip meditation and watch TV instead. (If that’s what you were expecting, sorry, pal.)

Formal practice, or inner work, whatever that might be for you -- sitting in meditation, therapy, yoga, etc. -- is still necessary for those of us who don’t have the karma for spontaneous enlightenment. We need to turn off the TV, we need to shut off distractions, we must shelter and sweetly guide our skittish attention, in the early stages of training our mind, to strengthen awareness and concentration.

Then, after some time, when we are more firmly established in the practice, we can play with bringing that quality of attention to the more turbulent landscape of daily life, including more lively practices like mindful eating, conscious love-making, and even mindful movie watching. (My kinda date night.)

Finally, it’s not what we are doing, but how. It’s not in the material objects we choose to own or the actions we take, really. It’s about our relationship to them. It’s not what the doing looks like on the outside, but what the being feels like on the inside.

Naturally, yes, what we do, the objects we reach for, and the words we say do change. But it’s worth noting that we cannot always tell from the outside who among us is practising and how far along they are on the path -- best to abandon judgment altogether.