That, too, Practice  

I want to share a practice that has helped me a lot. I call it “That, too” practice. I warmly invite you to try it. When we are tempted to react to something unpleasant, it’s a potent thing to stop in the middle of our impulse and softly say “That, too.” Acknowledging what “is” rather than immediately trying to get rid of what displeases us is powerful. Just for that moment we are not yanked into our usual responses. It is a small act but a mighty one.

Phrases Posted on Facebook, March 2023

When Jesus said, “Be Ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect”, the Aramaic word he used was translated into English as perfect as in without fault instead of the word, “complete”. Be complete is at the heart of “that, too” practice. What difference inclusiveness makes to create wholeness! That understanding does not belong to any particular religion.
Sometimes we might feel badly for ways we react. “How could I have . . .?“
Those moments are times to say an immediate and quiet, “That, too.”  We will make mistakes. We will say and do things we regret. The things we regret are also part of our wholeness. Knowing that will help us be part of the world after all.
Imagine a closet with just one suit hanging there.  Imagine that suit to be your fail-safe, automatic way to engage with life. Now add another suit. Immediately what has been automatic is divided in half. Add more suits and the closet gets to be so full that a second pole will be needed at the back of the closet. Pretty soon the first suit will be hanging back there since there are so many other ways to be. That fail-safe suit will more than likely end up at Good Will one day. This is what “That, to” practice can do.
When turmoil descends into our life like an unwanted winter season, it’s hard to feel that it, too, belongs. “That, too” may be whispered with great reluctance and lack of trust. We know, however, that turmoil can work us, open us and make us more able to open our hearts in exactly the mess we might be in. “That, too” becomes a statement of trust as we stumble along. We are then making good use of the pain.
Ultimately practicing “That, too” is the work of basic noticing, courteous recognition, unqualified presence and the human hospitality of inclusion. That is what attention fundamentally consists of. Can’t you hear the Zen Masters pointing this out through the ages? “Attention! Attention! Attention?” As we accept the flow of life with its ups and its downs, the birth of the new and the death of the old and the constancy of “That, too”, we can glimpse the whole that somehow lives in every passing part?
When we include something with a heartfelt “That, too” we might have brought an angel close. We don’t know, do we? But the generosity of “That, too” almost always guarantees us an angel or two.
Springtime I like to visit Logees in Danielson, CT, a most amazing greenhouse. The last time I visited I was dumbstruck by variety, countless shades of green, countless leaves of every shape and size. I thought our Creator must love variety, infinite multiplicity and all of it belongs and makes a whole. Does the Creator want for each of us to be absolutely unique, each one a “That, too”, I wonder? Could it possibly be that Spirit makes us in order to be known? The recognition each thing created can ideally give back is a lot of “That, too” praise, for sure.
Referencing the post from two days ago we know that some Spiritual traditions honor the “names “ of God. What if one name besides the honored classic one, “I Am”, would be “That, too?”
From mankind’s beginning we were trained to notice what might be wrong for survival’s sake. We have our shields up just in case, and it often puts a lid on life. But a life that is lived to the hilt is one that remembers awe. When we have forgotten to live in awe it is high time to remember what is already good if not amazing.
“That, too.  That, too.”
We mostly operate with unconscious judgments. “This is okay. That is not”. It divides the world into small pieces. Here’s a quote from one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s letters. He is known for his incredibly beautiful poems. “Whoever doesn’t sometime or other, give full consent, full and joyous consent, to the dreadfulness of life, can never take possession of the unutterable abundance and power of our existence, can only walk on the edge, and one day when the judgment is given, will have been neither dead or alive.
Here’s a poignant “That, too,” from Sheldon Kopp: “Why must I suffer for not being perfect when I can be good enough? Victory only requires that I learn to survive repeated defeats. I don’t feel safe being completely open. Revealing myself to others always involves taking a chance. But hiding out can be just as risky. Social disguises and impersonations consume creative energy. No matter how I cover up, exposure of my inadequacies is inevitable. When I succeed in deceiving others, I am left isolated and unknown. If no one knows me, who can love me?”
Whatever of difficulty, loss or despair we may have, there is always something more that moves beyond what we may be suffering. By not shirking our pain but accepting it and living it patiently we have a chance to experience abundant and uncountable grace also. No matter how much we doubt that possibility, “That too” is always near by.