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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
spring 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 21 narayan helen liebenson: I find medita- tors to be some of the most idealistic people in the world. This is both a strength and a weakness. Its strength is that it encourages us to reach beyond what appears possible and to live with great meaning. Ideals guide us in our intentions and offer a direction for our lives. The weakness is that when we fail to live up to our ideals and expecta- tions, it only adds to our suffering. This runs counter to the Buddhist path, which is about alleviating suffering wherever it is found, especially within ourselves. Our practice asks for complete and utter honesty; we test our beliefs and discover whether or not they are true. It also asks for complete and utter compassion for all beings, including ourselves. Putting oth- ers’ needs ahead of your own as the path to happiness may have felt true for you up until now, but your current situation is test- ing this belief—maybe it’s no longer true for you, or maybe it’s only true sometimes. One of Suzuki Roshi’s books is titled Not Always So. There’s a lot of truth in those words. What was once so needs to be reconsidered during different phases of life. Other than just keeping your head above water, which anyone who knows the terrain of caregiving would agree is no small feat, this may be an opportunity for you to go beyond beliefs and explore the delicate ter- ritory between self and other. Of course it is deeply meaningful to care for someone you love and cherish. And it is very difficult. When fatigue is an issue, which it inevitably is, it is easy to become resentful. This can especially be the case if your relationship with your loved one was more reciprocal in the past. This isn’t a per- sonal failing; it is more like a perfect storm. Your path is to see into this situation in a different and more liberating way. I sense that you are not including your- self in your caregiving. What would it look like to do so? Since this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, you need to find a way to make time for your- self. It’s also crucial to be conscious of any (lEft–right):marylanG,nicolasGounaropoulos,kimcampbell ask the teachers Q i have always believed that putting others’ needs ahead of my own is the way to happiness, but caring for a partner with a chronic neurological illness is putting that belief to the test. i feel fortunate that i can help in this way, but honestly, i resent the constant demands on my life. why am i not deriving more joy from helping another sentient being? NarayaN HeleN liebeNsoN is a guiding teacher at cambridge insight meditation center GesHe TeNziN WaNGyal riNpocHe is a lineage holder of the Bön dzogchen tradition of Tibet sallie jiko Tisdale is a lay dharma teacher at dharma rain Zen center in Portland, Oregon