By: Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda
Any time we learn something, it changes, if only imperceptibly, everything. We’ll never look at anything in life the same, as a result of whatever it is that we’ve learned. And since we are always learning, that means that every breath brings with it an entirely new perspective.
Resentment and anger also change everything, especially ourselves. Yet you and I can only be as upset as we are willing to allow our perceptions to control us.
Consider this… right now, think of one thing that you are presently angry about or hurt about. Now ask yourself, do you prefer agitation, hurt, anger or fear to peacefulness? Of course not. The good news is that once you’ve decided… really decided… to let go of those ideas that give rise to fear in all its manifestations (anger, resentment, hurt, sadness, depression, anxiety, jealousy, etc.), once again, everything changes.
It’s very important, especially when someone “behaves like an asshole”, or “acts like a bitch”, that we recognise the very reason those phrases have the word “like” in them. The person is not the behaviour. Deep within us, we already know that, and that is why we find ourselves sometimes railing from their stupidity, insensitivity or irrationality. But it’s essential that we acknowledge our hurt or frustration, and then come back to the present moment, and reaffirm that they are not their behaviour. They are good people, doing the best they can, often coming from a place of fear, woundedness or emotional brokenness.
“Behaviour,” wrote German playwright, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “is a mirror in which every one displays his own image.” And so, when someone is behaving badly, it means their image of themselves is damaged, flawed or delusional. Wouldn’t it be more useful to show them compassion and patience, than just to say, “Fuck you!”
Now I will be the very first to admit it’s not always easy to remember that before those words come out, but it’s ALWAYS possible to revisit the situation after calmer heads prevail and offer a more compassionate ear and heart.
We often think that being open-minded or tolerant means accepting those who have differing opinions, views or ideas from us. But we limit that definition to include those who are presently engaged in disagreement with our own views, perceptions and ideas. We seldom consider that open-mindedness naturally includes open-heartedness, if it is authentic. Therefore, an open mind is a forgiving heart.
Every time we judge someone else, we are interiorly judging ourselves — either for something we’ve done or something we believe we have the capacity to do. Interiorly, we recognise the delusion of dualistic thought, and so we know that if something or someone angers us, then it is a reflection of something within us to which we are reacting. That’s a difficult concept for many of us to really grasp. Blame is always easier, when placed on someone else.
But there is no “someone else”.
There’s only us… no “them”. Only this… no “that”.
When a memory or thought is filled with pain, we might find it difficult to let go of. But when we realise that it’s our attachment to the thought or memory, and not the event itself, which is causing us to suffer, our road to recovery is certain and clear.
Now I know there are some, whose delusion of being “realists” is now telling them that what I am suggesting is absurd. (It’s always rather interesting that quite often, these are the same people who don’t find it absurd at all to imagine that the story of a virgin birth, walking on water or raising from the dead after being brutally murdered. And they wonder why I consider them delusional!)
Those people are likely saying that no one in their “right mind” would ever bring suffering upon themselves. The fact is, those people are right… no one in their right mind would do such a thing.
The problem is that we are often inexperienced at being in our Right Mind. Instead, we function from the “monkey mind” — the delusional realm of ego, which usurps the Right Mind, and substitutes itself.
Living in the Right Mind is the only way to resolve those things which trouble us. Living in the Right Mind comes from sitting in silence and observing without judgment, all the thoughts that travel through our minds, as we try to slow down, relax and empty ourselves of the constant chatter of the monkey mind.
Now consider this… if you allow these words to inform you… everything changes from this moment forward!
That is an exciting proposition, and an opportunity for you to achieve something greater. Embrace that potential and have a great week!
Be gentle with yourselves, and know that you are appreciated and loved.
Drawing on the essential teachings of the great spiritual teachers, philosophers and freethinkers throughout time, Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (retired Archbishop Francis-Maria Salvato, O.C.) has been regarded as a provocative, revolutionary “voice of reason” within the field of religion and spirituality, since 1983. He lives in historic Middletown, Pennsylvania, where he serves as Regent of Western Buddhist University, and is the Spiritual Director of the Contemplative Order of Compassion. He can be reached at: http://orderofcompassion.com