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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 23 |spring 2006 most important teaching I received from Suzuki Roshi, and the most difficult for me to accept was, “You’re perfect just as you are.” geshe tenZin wangyaL rinPoChe: In order to be of help to others, it is very important to offer an open heart. Through your prac- tice of meditation, you can clear your own obstacles to being open and cultivate the sincere motivation to be kind to others. A subtle obstacle to being of service to oth- ers can be the very thought that medita- tion, or the dharma, is just what they need! Please be careful not to make this mistake. It is important not to block the space of your openheartedness with too many ideas of how to be helpful. It’s more important just to be available and kind, with a sense of humor. Openness allows the spontaneous ex- pression of compassion to arise, which may manifest differently in any given moment. Perhaps your friend will be curious about what you are doing, but perhaps not. If you are willing to help when your friend needs it, without impos- ing your ideas on him or her, naturally they may be open to you and curious about what you are doing. They may even be open to talking about what might be helpful, including meditation. But this interest should come from them. If you have too many ideas for them, you can actually block their potential and open- ness, which is not your intention. So be open and humorous, and allow the space for them to come to you with questions about what you do, or whether meditation helps. If they don’t ask, you are still helping them with your presence and the unique space of friendship that you offer. Please do not underestimate the power of this open presence. In our materialistic world, it is easy to devalue our human presence, but this open pres- ence is a treasury of virtuous qualities. When we connect deeply and clearly in open presence, all the virtues are pres- ent and can spontaneously arise when a situation calls for them. This action is not fettered by our thoughts and ideas. It does not carry our fears or inadequacies. As your practice of meditation deep- ens, your trust in the open space of your being will grow. In addition, in your meditation practice, you can always pray from your heart that your friend be happy and free of suffering and the causes of suffering, that they find joy and equanimity, and that they connect with a path to liberation in this lifetime. narayan LieBenson graDy: The short answer is that you can’t make somebody take up Buddhism or meditation. The longer answer is that the process of beginning to practice meditation is somewhat mys- terious. There are ways, however, that can push people away from practicing, including wanting this too much for someone, even when you have the best of intentions. Trust in your sincerity. Through want- ing to ease your friend’s suffering, you transmit your love and care. However, your strong feeling that this person would ben- efit from being able to take their thoughts less seriously, though understandable, is a thought. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t true, but because of your attachment to this thought, it is unlikely to be beneficial. It may be more useful to your friend if you simply rely on the clarity available to you in noticing that it isn’t possible for your friend to take up the practice. Respecting this would be a kindness. And since your friend is experiencing psychological diffi- culties, it might be skillful to suggest they seek psychological care. However, sometimes one of great- est ways to extend compassion is not to offer advice. Rather, it is to offer a silent presence, letting the person rest within him- or herself. One of the more difficult things in life is to seemingly sit by and watch someone suffer when you know there is another way. Of course, you are not just sitting around doing noth- ing. You are continuing to practice. If you are calm and clear-minded, you may help your friend by offering a calmer and more peaceful environment. Your love and care are the results of your own practice. The ways in which you have benefited from the practice will benefit your friend as well. If you are happier, your friend may at some point ask how this change came about. Then you can answer enthusiastically! Living the teachings is a much more powerful statement than talking about them. This means applying your practice to this thought that your friend’s life would be better if they would only meditate. When it comes to our personal relation- ships, letting go can be a most difficult practice. In wide-ranging essays and interviews, contributors from the fields of Buddhist practice and scholarship, philosophy, the arts, and literature examine the work of this modern genius. Shambhala Publications To order call (888) 424-2329 or visit www.shambhala.com Visit our website to receive a 20% discount on this and many other books. Recalling Chögyam Trungpa Compiled and edited by Fabrice Midal Foreword by Diana J. Mukpo Contributors: Pema Chödrön • The Dalai Lama • Sherab Chödzin Kohn • Jack Kornfield • Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche • Charles Prebish • Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche • Bernie Glassman • Traleg Kyabgön Rinpoche • and others.