It’s time to crack the books, and get to class kids!
Many of us probably look forward to their regular Saturday meditation service, or their regular podcasts from a Buddhist teacher. Once a week we receive a teaching and guidance that hopefully helps us along our path and offers some wisdom and insight that we can use in our daily lives.
Most recently however, I have come to see that the teachings, lessons and wisdom are available to each of us every single day. Actually they are available in so many ways and moments, if not every moment of every day.
One such lesson is the observation of my reaction to my sweet old baby Chow Chow, she is now 15 years old and in very poor health. Pain medications help, but still she often screams and cries out in pain. And as patient and “mindful” as I have tried to be, honestly there have been many times that I lost my patience and yelled at her to be quiet. The whining and whining becomes intolerable, and I reach my threshold of acceptance. But she continues to be my gentle teacher in so many ways. Sending her all the love and compassion in the World does not change the reality of her physical pain and suffering. And my physical and emotional reactions to this only help expose my own lack of a deeper understanding about the realities of this life. And how unskilful of me to become upset because I cannot control, change or stop her suffering. She is teaching me to accept without expectation or attachment. And she is teaching me that I cause myself pain by doing so, with no benefit to her whatsoever. And equally valuable, she is teaching me about impermanence, decay, dying and soon death. This is an inescapable truth that I can easily ignore. You see, my pains have already begun but to a far lessor degree than hers. And if I am so able to live longer, then surely my physical body will decay and incur greater pains.
While my dog is a marvelous example of lessons in the moment, there are so many more. Not a day going by that one Family member or the other doesn’t have a difficult situation that they struggle with. And often I am blessed to be the one whom they turn to for counsel. And while I am honored that they do this, I have become increasingly aware of how little I can often help. Reminding myself often to just be present. Fully present of my own reactions, past kamma that may influence my thoughts and feelings, and ever so cautious to not create my own stories that may only fan the flames of dissatisfaction and suffering. In addition, the dhamma is not for every ear. And any wisdom I may have, is worthless unless skillfully applied. An example would be if a friend or loved one turned to me for comfort because of the death of someone that they were very close to. To tell them, “oh well, all things are impermanent” would not only be insensitive and unskilful, but likely so hurtful as well. Quite the opposite of Right Speech!
But these situations are also a chance to learn and grow, discovering how our own minds create assumptions and exertions that are absent of real wisdom and compassion. Awareness of our own ego can suddenly be staring us in the face as if we knew what was best for another being.
Today was just one more example of class being in session. A loose tooth caused me to make an appointment with my Dentist. I waited about a week before he could get me in. And while I honestly had some concern over what was wrong, I did not create stories or get overly concerned. I accepted that I would get in when I got in. After the Dentist came in to examine the situation, I was informed that an implant I got 5 years ago had failed. Meaning the tooth had to come out, and the process of bone grafting etc. was to start over again. I was looking at another four to five months and likely great expense before I would finally have that tooth back in my head. Not only was I surprisingly at peace with this, but a greater lesson was exposed. The lesson that I had an entire week to create stories and suffering that would have not benefited me or anyone else one teensy bit! And isn’t this the way we should all be able to see so many situations in our life. Letting go, no desiring to control or change an outcome or situation. Just accepting that this is a life and things change and things happen. All the worry and all the stories in the World are not going to make one bit of difference. The only thing that will, is mindfulness, presence, awareness, and acceptance.
Just try to remember, there is no need to wait for the lesson, the lesson is right here in front of us just waiting to be seen. Class is in session.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.