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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
22 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6 feelings of resentment; otherwise your wholesome intentions will slowly crum- ble. I would strongly encourage you not to try to power your way through this, giving your all for your partner while sacrificing yourself. When service becomes sacrifice, something needs to be looked at anew. You may want to take a fresh look at the idea of joy. What is joy? Is it a feel- ing or is it something indefinable and ungraspable that bubbles up unbidden, independent of circumstances? Perhaps something deeper than joy will emerge through a growing confidence that you are doing your best in difficult circum- stances. And perhaps your definition of joy needs to shift and evolve, turn- ing into something as of yet unknown. Please take care of yourself. In doing so, you will be able to take care of all beings, including your partner, with great grace and enduring love. tenzin WanGyal rinpoche: Having the aspiration or intention to serve the wel- fare of others is encouraged in the Bud- dhist teachings as the way to liberation. But how do we work with the experi- ence of serving another when our own needs compete for our attention? It is good that you notice that you are feeling resentful. To any caregiver, my advice is to pay attention to your- self and to any sense of being irritable, tired, or sad. Such experiences can become the doorway to genuine com- passion, so it is important not to bypass your experience by rejecting or ignoring these feelings or talking yourself out of them. Instead, take some time to turn your attention inward and reflect. Ask yourself, who is challenged and in pain? Be honest and open and allow time for this question to resonate within your body, your emotions, your mind. If you look directly at your experi- ence, free of judgment, your pain will fully emerge in the light of the open attention you offer to yourself. Feel that sense of yourself, allowing your experi- ence. You may notice a rush of inner dialogue. As you sit in stillness, listen to the silence that allows this dialogue without rejecting, arguing, or provid- ing counsel in any way. Just be with it. You may even notice your mind creat- ing future scenarios or spinning stories. Again, just spaciously allow your expe- rience. The being of yourself knows fully how to do this. As you be, you non-conceptually host this pain iden- tity, pain speech, and pain imagina- tion. Aware of being, your experience will self-liberate, releasing or exhaust- ing. The openness of your being is the source of all positive qualities. Through connecting to this source in your medi- tation, you are refreshed and naturally rich with qualities such as joy. Sometimes we do not manage to liberate our experience by hosting and acknowledging our pain. This is because we do not sufficiently trust the experience of openness. So it is neces- sary to bring kindness and warmth to your suffering. Feel as you sit with your- self that you are offering an embrace or hug to your suffering. This hug has three qualities: spaciousness, luminos- ity, and warmth. That means in the presence of your own discomfort, you open and bring nonjudgmental aware- ness and warmth to your experience. When you are able to do this with your own suffering, you are able to do this in the presence of another’s suffering. So often when caring for another, we do not sufficiently acknowledge our own needs when they arise. As you hon- estly acknowledge your own conditions and limitations, you may need to take more time to care for yourself. If you include caring for yourself in the equa- tion of helping another, you will find that during the time you are focused on helping another, you are able to be more fully present. And it is the fullness of your presence that is the source of the joy that you lack. In the process of serving others, we will stumble upon our own fears, resentments, and insecurities. These when service becomes sacrifice, something needs to be looked at anew. — Narayan helen liebenson