In her book Seeking peace: chronicles of the worst buddhist in the world, psychologist Mary Pipher chronicles her “polite breakdown” when, after many years of building a successful career of helping others and a happy marriage, everything fell apart. Something in the healer broke. Then, somewhere along the road toward wholeness, she recalls a scene in the movie Jaws where the big bad shark suddenly rears up behind the little boat and the captain shouts “We need a bigger boat.”
His words echo the Buddhist saying that we all benefit from “a bigger container” to make sense of what’s going on in our awareness. Take, for instance, my resistance to believing that I am worth loving (see yesterday’s post). By opening my consciousness beyond the small frame of old habits I noticed a gradual softening of the heart. I was (am) able to hold both my old fears and the new sensation of love in this larger container — instead of seeing them as irreconcilable opposites.
And so it is with the many dualistic views in everyday sense-making, when we get stuck in the choice-making dilemmas of should I do this or that, I have this but want that. Expanding the container of how we see the world creates spaciousness for the heart to speak and be heard. It frees us from the confinement of worn-out attitudes and tired old viewpoints. It sets us free.