My inspiration: Rupert Marques
Rupert Marques is leading a new retreat at The Barn this summer called Earth In Mind: Dharma, Deep Ecology and the Land.
He has taught at various retreat centres in Europe and is based at Ecodharma, a contemplative retreat community in the Spanish Pyrenees 'dedicated to exploring the role of the Dharma in the movements for social justice and ecological sustainability.
Rupert has practised in the Insight Meditation tradition for nearly 25 years and here we ask him about his experiences and inspirations.
How did you come to dharma practice?
I came to the practice at the end of a long pilgrimage in India. I had no real idea of what practice was at that time and I found meditation painfully challenging for both body and mind. Yet it revealed to me something that I had not even conceived of before: that the mind, which I had always lived inside of, could actually be known. It was this glimpse into the freedom from being imprisoned by the mind that brought about the sense that I would be following this way of understanding the mind for the rest of my life.
Tell us about a book that has inspired you
A book that I turn to again and again is The Light Inside the Dark by John Tarrant, a Zen teacher and psychotherapist. He writes so clearly and compellingly about the necessity of honouring the descent or the fall as an integral part of the path. Often Dharma practice can be seen as ‘ascending the mountain’, and the descent into the dark and shadowy valleys of life somehow being regarded as wrong or ‘falling from the path.’ I am so grateful that there are those who remind us that it is our whole humanness that we are asked to be intimate with, the shadow and light both, the work of ‘soul’ as well as of ‘spirit’. It is here I experience humility is born, and with humility, its close companion, compassion.
What's your daily practice look like?
I do make some time most days for sitting quietly, but I would say that the touchstone or reminder for a simple wakefulness or presence in my working day is actually conscious walking. Walking is such a large part of my day that I find it much more embedded in my daily life than a sitting practice. I get to see when I’m walking hurriedly, leaning forward into the next moment or the completion of the next task, as if the place where I could come to rest is not in the very moment I am. Another aspect of my practice on a daily basis is attending to mental states and moods in order to understand how I am viewing experience and my general state of mind, particularly when there is some subtle or not so subtle sense of dissatisfaction.
What or who is inspiring you currently?
Arundhati Roy once wrote ‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing…’ What is inspiring me currently is the range and scale of grass-roots organisations and individuals working toward a more socially-just and ecologically-resilient world. There are so many people and small organisations who are directing their life toward the reality we sense is possible, both individually and collectively. It is of course a great challenge, and yet what else to do with our life? This really is my daily practice, to live with integrity, and it can only show up in the moment I am currently in! Each day I fall in some way, and get to learn how to embrace a little bit more of myself, a little more of life within my heart. I have faith in what is possible, what remains is for us to embody what is possible.