blog address: https://www.thekchencholing.org/blog/conversations-with-my-guru-13/post/conversations-with-my-guru-73
blog details: Chapter 8: All you do is talk; you have not done anything...
Ouch. That was what Rinpoche said at a temple committee meeting. It was not directed at me personally but was in relation to something I felt responsible for - so the words stung. In previous musings I mentioned how we should try to take what Rinpoche says to us positively. Giving advice like that is easy but when it happens to you, it is not always easy to be objective and dispassionate, remain calm and unaffected. The interesting thing is the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got. I mean I felt I had done so much over the years and I did not deserve that comment.
For the observant, you would have noticed the word “I” mentioned 5 times in the last two sentences...
When you are so wrapped up with a thought that just does not seem to go away though - the Tibetan term for this is “rlung” or “wind” - it is not always easy to snap out of it. In his book Direct Expressions, Rinpoche provides some guidance on what to when you feel this way. If you have not read his book, I would suggest you please do. Although you may have never encountered this situation before, from my observation of almost every single student, I suspect that isn't the case.
But back to the story. While the thoughts of "I" lingered, gradually though, the process began for me to take my own advice and analyse what Rinpoche had said. Reflecting on all the things initially viewed as “my” work, I realised that it was never just me; it was only possible because of so many people’s efforts. Even for things that may appear to others that I was the main contributor, in reality (after some analysis) I had only played a small part. In comparison to truly taking charge and making things happen, I had done very little. Rinpoche was right...
As I began to analyze my motivation, it began to be even clearer. What was all this for anyway? Recognition, praise? Even obtaining such things from my Guru made me feel like they were just more worldly concerns. Why did it matter so much if he praised or scolded me or whether I had done anything? As always, this obsession with the “I” as we have so often been taught seemed to be the real problem.
I had studied this for so many years, read so many books, watched so many videos, attended pujas etc but it took this statement from my Guru to expose the truth – none of those activities had adequately reduced this very strong feeling of “I”. BUT just one statement by my Guru was the catalyst that made a significant dent in this sense of “I”. A teaching by Lama Zopa on service at a dharma centre made me realise how incredibly fortunate we all are to be able to play even a small part.
Whenever the thought arises that perhaps there has been some “progress” in my Dharma practice, these episodes bring me back to earth and I use them as a reminder of how long I have to go and that in reality, even after so many years, I actually have not made that much progress at all. And through remembering these episodes, the hot air balloon of mistaken pride and ego - the inflated “I” - gets shot down. It takes a brave and skilled marksman to shoot the arrow to hit the balloon. May we all always be blessed to have such a skilled marksman in our lives and, one day, may we also become such skilled marksman.
5 Dec 2021
keywords: religion, buddhist temple, religious belief organization, main seat of singha rinpoche
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