What does the practice look like if
critical thinking is built into the
beginning of every dharma talk?
Is inserted before the four noble truths
as the first and most important thing

Do not turn outside of yourself, dear student
Do not look to spiritual teachers to guide the way
You are the only one that knows your
own experience.

Think critically.
Do not breathe mindfully through the
Difficulty if punching the air or
Swinging an axe into the earth
will take better care.

Taking care does not look a certain way.
There is nothing wrong with releasing
Your anger into the wind, the ground,
To take up space with it, let it rage
Even to burn down what perceptions you have

First throw a tantrum, rage at every
fucking thing you hate
Let the axe fall hard into the ground,
fuck you fuck this fuck everything

Notice what is arising, a different sort of anger
Anger at the practice for allowing your anger to
go hidden for so long. Isn’t that what the
fucking practice is for? Take nothing
teachers tell you for granted, say goodbye to the
security blanket that is plum village practice

Nothing is certain, not even the practice.

See your tendency to blame the practice for the
Deep well of anger hidden inside you
To blame yourself for not tending to it earlier, scooping
Out handfuls of water to sprinkle the flowers
growing unasked for on the gravesites

You’re angry, I see that. The fear arises next
fear that I have nothing
If I cannot rely upon the practice, what is there?
Hopeless, uncertain, looking for something to grasp
despairing, falling, afraid

I can stay with the fear even as another
piece of me takes a bat to the glass windows of
this little house, bashes everything in
The fear sits in the front garden, trembling
to think of what will happen when everything is gone

A rationalizing piece of me arrives to the scene
watching the destruction, cheering it on
Keep it up, it says, at least when everything is destroyed
You’ll be free from perception, you’ll be able to choose
who you are, you’ll take what you want from the practice
and leave the rest

And what else is there?

It’s not like I’m on some witchhunt to discover
all of the anger fear and distress inside of me
but I can also allow each feeling to expand
and tumble into the next, letting there be no separation in experience

Everything is here, everything is included

Noticing the resistance to the very idea that
My anger at the practice can be included
In this breathing.

If the practice is not solid ground, how can I use breathing
to work through this anger?

Chad says,
We can allow that resistance to exist in awareness,
choosing in our own freedom to go on with our lives
Fuck this can exist
I hate you can exist
I hate myself can exist

Do I believe this?
Yes, and it can become so overwhelming so fast,
If I keep adding kindling to the fire
If I keep watering the plant
Whatever fucking metaphor you want to use

I can drown in the fuck this if I’m not careful
Even if I am aware of it.
Even if I explore it.

Same thing with happiness, I suppose. Drowning in happiness
Is the cost of excluding anger
I lose access to a piece of myself longing for space
I stop expanding, I attach
To one definition of myself.

Fuck that.

I want to expand to include many pieces
To step into spacious awareness of what is
To explore, to dive into pain to see what’s on the other side
I want to be brave and to share the difficulty and sorrow
With others, in a way that I am not swept away by anger
But led by it into freedom.

Thinking critically,