In the broad landscape of memory, it is the severe stresses and traumatic events that stand like reverse lighthouses, sucking light in and blinding us. But, ordinarily, it is the subtle mental burdens that are the most insistent and oppressive. We usually know when we heavily grieve and we can feel the fractures from a workplace unsuitable for us, but the weights our minds carry that go unregistered spread like an infectious disease across an unresisting host.
We dismiss as petty the small corruptions in our relationships that cause distrust and apathy. Those little cracks grow into chasms of alienation.
We leave messes and clutter in our wake, ignoring the tiny irritation and stress this causes others. Even when it is ourselves that we afflict with physical chaos, we regard it as easily ignored.
We strive after imagined perfection and abandon the miraculous beauty we have now. The flower of the weed is no less a miracle than the carefully raised rose. In many ways, the weed is the more miraculous for it had no human hand.
To shelve an unpaid bill to be dealt with later creates a burden. To ignore the stranger we pass in the street creates a burden. Every expression of contempt, duty done merely for the sake of habit, and choice of industrial poison instead of garden food creates a burden. These subtle mental burdens are low, tiny slivers of darkness – but they compound. They aggregate, as all our collections of mind and body do. Often the darkness that breaks our spirits and leaves us unhappily starving just while we gobble and grab is this gathered weight.
In the unity of perception, there are no burdens and there are no others. When we can see without the darkness, all is light and all are One. But even though the subtle mental burdens are fabricated illusions, our creation of them refuses our unity of perception. In your compassion and connection with others and yourself, put down the burdens by attending to each of your actions with a fullness of presence.
When the light is shining, the darkness does not dissolve once and is then gone forever. Light continually dissolves the darkness. Your love is just the same – it shines. It is a continual outpour of self over the large stones and small pebbles alike. Just as the subtle mental burdens collect and compound, so too does your daily devotion in the tiny, trivial matters.
When you refuse to step on an insect on the sidewalk, when you can find a lovely human connection with the clerk while checking out at the grocery store, when you go out of your way to do completely invisible kindnesses for people you never meet – ah, then you are light and joyous! Without the subtle mental burdens, our hearts dwell in the stillness and silence of the infinite mystery. There is no difference between work and rest when we are weightless, unbounded, and free.