Wed Mar 1st: Verse 18 of Reflections on Silver River
First half: Dawn, Apprentice
Second half: Paul, Senior teacher
This week we will work through Verse 18 and its commentary in Reflections on Silver River, Ken McLeod’s translation of Tokmé Zongpo’s Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva.
Here’s Verse 18:
When you are down and out, held in contempt,
Desperately ill and emotionally crazed,
Don’t lose your heart. Take into you
The suffering and negativity of all beings – this is the
practice of a bodhisattva.
A few months ago, I went to see my teacher, Paul, for a mentoring session. After I spoke to him for a while he told me how I looked like I was in deep pain when I walked in his front door earlier. I was quite shocked to hear it because I thought I was feeling nothing different than my ordinary self. Then he offered a guided meditation on seeing what I have been resisting to feel within me. It was a powerful exercise where I felt some strong emotions like anger, sadness and helplessness that I didn’t even know existed. The emotions that came up were so strong that it took me a few days to feel any sense of calmness.
Seeing how much I have been resisted to experience my own difficult emotions, I finally understood why it was so difficult for me to be with people when they are suffering. Even though I had an intention to help others to be free of suffering, deep down in my heart, I didn’t want to experience any unpleasant emotions. When I encountered uneasy feelings, I either ran away from the experience or I tried to fix the situation or the people, including myself.
With help from Paul, I started the healing process of my abandoned emotions. He advised me to start practicing the Four Immeasurables – Equanimity, Loving-Kindness, Compassion and Joy towards myself. (This is the topic of the Luminous Ground’s upcoming retreat) I sat every morning and evening on my meditation cushion and repeated lines for each Immeasurable.
For weeks and months passed by, I didn’t feel much difference in my body or emotion, but I started to notice actions or situations that triggered or contributed to my negative emotions more clearly. Gradually, I started to see, accept and understand how some relationships in my life were painful. Then it became quite difficult for me to continue those relationships because I was wishing myself to be free from “suffering, harm and disturbance” every day during my meditation practice. I started to bring some significant changes to my relationships with myself and others. For example, I try to embrace myself as I am, rather than constantly try to become someone better or different. It has been quite a painful yet liberating path that I am still walking on step by step with the help of Paul and the community.
One thing that also has changed since I started this practice is that my heart connects to other’s difficulty more naturally. I feel pain in my heart when I hear or see someone in a difficult situation, I wish them to be free of the pain and be happy, well and at peace.
Join Paul and I this Wednesday where we can learn to be with our and other’s difficulties and send wishes of loving-kindness to ourselves and all beings.