Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the asking

A looooong while back, I wrote a few posts about some difficulty I was having processing my emotions around some big psychological and philosophical questions. During that time, the wonderful Mr.Ayres (hi, Kim! How goes it!? edited to add: sorry for the typo on your name, too!!) and I tossed a few emails back and forth to each other. The question (in a nutshell) was raised as to whether or not I held the belief that I "deserved good".

I have been thinking about this for months. Like, I'd say, daily.

I know for a fact that I have had issues throughout my life that have caused me to create a belief system within myself that makes it difficult to accept good things when they come my way. There is an undercurrent about whether or not I believe that I deserve goodness, but the truth of the matter is that I have been working on that faulty belief system for decades now, and it just is not sitting well with me that I haven't made a dent in it somehow.

I have made it to a place in my life where I do believe I deserve I good. And I have come to a place where I can create, open myself up to, and receive, goodness. In fact, I have even come to a place where I believe that all of us deserve good (that's right, even you over there, that I have at times deemed undeserving). I have come to understand that we are all the same, and we all deserve good. And that is where my newfound issues lie.

It was around the end of June that I realized there is a whole different angle to my issues about feeling deserving:
I know I deserve good, but I now feel guilty that I have good, because while I have goodness there are others that do not....and they are equally deserving.

I have no idea if this is making any sense at all, but anyhow....I realized this about myself a day or two before I got a chance to meet this wonderful individual:

His name is Namkha Rinpoche (he's the Tibetan Monk seated on the right. I'm guessing y'all probably recognize the other guy....Namkha Rinpoche is seated with the Dali Lama). Back in June, Rinpoche did a very impromptu and somewhat casual teaching at a local yoga studio. MyFavoriteKid came with me, and the topic of the talk that night was "Transforming Negative Emotion". It was a great lecture, and I should probably summarize what I got out of it at some point, but what I really want to write about tonight was the question and answer segment at the end of his time with us.

Before I do that, let me just say that it was an honor for me to meet a Rinpoche ("beloved teacher"--it's a title, like the way Lama is). I was struck by the fact that he and I are the same age. We are both 41. I'm not sure why that was such a big deal to me, other than maybe in some way to compare my years with someone who had grown up saturated with buddhist teachings. I dunno. I was struck by his sense of humor, and how he spoke in a way that showed how relevant buddhism is in today's world. Sometimes when people talk about buddhism it feels not just ancient, but "old". Like stale, old. Or foreign, maybe. Rinpoche really brought his teachings alive and placed them in context of a daily western life I could relate to.

Anyhow, I got to ask a question. He did not need it translated for him.

a prayer shawl he blessed, and a prayer wheel I picked up that day

"At this moment, I have a lot of goodness in my life. A lot. My life right now is very abundant. I do my best to give of myself to others, and I hope for others to experience goodness, as well. The trouble I am having, is that I look around me and see so much need, and pain, and suffering. It pains me. I mean, it actually physically hurts."
(I actually grabbed at my chest near my heart and made a squeezing motion, and he nodded)
"It hurts so much, that sometimes my own pain from seeing it prevents me from being useful in any way. I want to know what I can do about that."

He said to me (partially in english, and partially via translator), "I think this pain is good. I think it would be of greater concern if you saw the suffering of others and felt nothing. The discomfort you feel indicates you have compassion. The problem with these feelings is when you allow them to become lip service."

Dudes, I have thought about "lip service" and what that means, every single day since he spoke. And in the past few days, I have come to have a few new insights into myself, and I'll write about those tomorrow (hopefully. we all know how that goes).

I'm also excited to say that Namkha Rinpoche is returning for another lecture next week. I'm not sure what the topic is, but I look forward to going. Partially to hear what he has to say, and partially to say thanks.


Mouse said...

Wow.. how exciting to be able to be there and get a personal response to your question! I am sorry about your
inner turmoil though.. my brain and my heart feel like they've been playing tug of war for the last week and its rather unpleasant to say the least. I hope your answer comes to you quickly!
(also.. my word verification was "ChoFU" which made me giggle)

Kim Ayres said...

Well I'm 41 too. I've not met any buddhist monks lately so I'm hoping when I hit my next birthday in a couple of months, being 42 I will understand the ultimate answer of life the universe, and everything :)

I'm really pleased you're making progress. I wondered a bit when the emails dropped off.

So, feeling compassion and generosity, I'll forgive the fact you spelt Ayres wrong in your post ;)