Treading through the random territory of my current abecedarium, today we’re being welcomed onto the terra of T.
Today I’m musing about a couple of things that may in fact not be related, and yet in my mind I’m comparing them, looking at overlaps, considering the places they mesh and where they chafe. Two things, from two different backgrounds – one Buddhist philosophy and the other an alchemical slant of tarot.
First up, treating everything as equal.
In a mindfulness teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh instructs:
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.
The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath.
Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.”
I think there is great value in this. And frankly in a time when our collective societies seem bent on clinging to every possible paradigm of separation imaginable, I think it is infinitely more important than even to practice mindfulness.
There is trickiness to walking this path though. Because it can seem not to allow room for passion – for the things that really light us up, or the things that really inspire us to want to create change. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think perhaps we can hold all things equally, AND still allow that we each have preferences. My preference isn’t more important than yours, just different. There are always underlying ways in which we are all alike; and yet each one of us is a unique expression.
The second thing I’ve been musing about is the tarot’s Temperance card.
Traditionally temperance is depicted as a person/angel, usually female or androgynous, pouring liquid from one receptacle into another, and usually standing with one foot on water and one on land.
The card is all about balance. We tend, too, to think about moderation, but I’m not sure that’s exactly right. Moderation can feel like a tight reining in – a strong sense of limitation – a forced walking in the middle of the road. While balance to me feels like it can be much more expansive. It allows for great strengths, and a dynamic sense of actively paying attention to nuances so one can quickly shift and respond – that in-the-now awareness is what keeps one from falling into a ditch or off the edge of a cliff, and thus in the “middle” of the road.
I’ve recently been working with the Alchemical Tarot: Renewed 4th Edition created by Robert M Place. His image for temperance is a bit different.
It’s based directly on an image from an alchemical text published in 1617 of a female alchemist (alternately considered to be Miriam the sister of Moses, or an even more ancient alchemist who lived in Alexandria) who is credited with inventing distillation.
I love this image, where one of the cups is suspended in the sky. A primary alchemical teaching is certainly “as above so below.” We can view distillation as the alchemical harnessing of evaporation and precipitation, which is of course how Nature creates rain and thus supports plants in their growth. In this image, the roses are half white and half red – a balance between the feminine and the masculine.
So what do you think? Am I on to something with this seeing balance in both these disparate teachings? Perhaps you have something to share about what T thing has your brain cells working overtime, or perhaps a favorite philosophical teaching or tarot card. Do tell – you know I love to hear.