At a recent service at Blue Lotus Temple, the dhamma discussion was led my one of the sangha members. It was very inspirational, honest, candid and filled with personal insights and observations that I think everyone benefited from hearing.
At the end of his talk, he opened things up for others to share how the practice has changed them and affected them off of the cushion.
Several others offered their personal stories that were deeply heartfelt and touching. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room at times, myself included.
I was immensely humbled and grateful to hear what each of these individuals shared. The wisdom they offered, the difficulties they had faced, and the peace they have found through their practice.
On top off all these blessings that I received, one participant actually offered a powerful personal epiphany for me. A dear spiritual friend Jill, divulged something that she has discovered in her practice from listening mindfully to Bhikkhuni Vimala‘s guided meditation.
You see, during Bhikkhuni’s guided loving-kindness (metta) practice, she of course begins with directing us to send loving-kindness to ourselves. From there, it is suggested to spread this out to include Family members, sangha members, and then the whole World. With this open heart which is filled with love and compassion (karuna), she then suggests we send this loving-kindness and friendliness to our “difficult person”. That person which we may find to be the one causing us the most problems in our life, and perhaps the one we find most difficult to love.
But Jill shared her own little awakening when she explained that many times she finds that her most difficult person is actually Jill. And that not only was she the most difficult person, but that now during loving-kindness practice, she had the chance to offer love and acceptance to the self twice!
I definitely found everyone who spoke to be my teacher. But Jill’s story has really stuck with me. And it gave me such a clear awareness that, for me personally, the self is ALWAYS my most difficult person. Binding myself with thoughts and illusions, unskillful and unwholesome thinking that is predominantly based on the ego. And being well, happy and peaceful never comes from other beings. And it is no other being who can prevent this, other than the self. My own mind, my ego, my attachments, desires, clinging, grasping, aversions, etc. etc.
How refreshing and weight lifting to finally gain this understanding! I do not have to work on anyone else, no need to change people. No need to have others agree with me, encourage me, or accept my path. Only to be observant of my own mind, and diligent in my determination toward liberation.
This is why its called practice, because we each do this as best we can and as much as we can. And hopefully with kindness and patience towards ourselves always.
Perhaps one day I will no longer be my own “difficult person”, but for now I am simply grateful to have met him.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.