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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
21 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Whatever actions come from openness will be more authentic. From openness you will be able to experience the joy of giving and the joy of sharing. That is how bodhisattvas are able to work tirelessly for the benefit of others. The bodhisattva is not suffering in giving but is exercising joy. narayan liebenson Grady: It sounds as if your ideal of making your family and job into a bodhisattva practice may be colliding with the reality of life as it is. Although having these ideas is lovely, it may be more honest and fruitful to simply acknowledge ho w you actually feel instead of placing so much empha- sis on how you think you should feel. The resentment you are experiencing needs to be held with compassion; oth- erwise it can accumulate and explode into unwise action. All of us who live in the world have responsibilities to families, friends, and jobs. How we carry out those respon- sibilities determines the difference between a life of practice and a life that compounds suffering for ourselves and others. Carrying out one’s responsibili- ties need not mean sacrifice. Right now, you seem to be living a life of separation, doing what you feel you should do and trying to see that in the light of bodhisat- tva action. But true service to others has joy in it, even when it’s difficult. It may be helpful to stop, acknowl- edge how you feel, and reexamine your intentions. See if there’s a way to recog- nize and accept your feelings. Can you be aware of your feelings of anger and resentment without acting on them? If you don’t condemn the anger and guilt, but instead bring an openhearted atten- tiveness to these painful energies, you might be able to gradually resolve your questions. My suggestion is that you be honest with yourself, practice loving-kindness toward both yourself and others, do your meditation practice with diligence, and take responsibility for the emotions you are experiencing. This may go a long way toward helping you realize the inner and outer harmony you seek. investigate the story you are telling yourself to see how well it fits what my teacher called “things as-it-is.” I also suggest that you inject a little humor into your ruminations. (For instance, “This train of thought always takes me to a hell realm. I don’t think I want to get on it today.”) I think you must be familiar with meditations on loving-kindness, com- passion, empathetic joy, and equanimity, as well as the Metta (Loving-Kindness) Sutra. If you have a tendency to suffer with anger, you may find these medita- tions beneficial. tenZin wanGyal rinPoche: It is important to start where you are and not where you think you should be. Where you are is not feeling generous in doing for oth- ers, but feeling obligated and angry. So it is important to bring the one who is feeling angry to your meditation cushion. Who is this one? Stop trying to be something you are not, and simply feel what you are feeling for a moment. Pay close attention to the effort and resis- tance you experience. Feel that resistance with naked awareness—without judging yourself as good or bad. As you bring awareness to whatever you are sens- ing and feeling, take care not to create a story through thinking or analyzing. Just be with your experience, directly, moment to moment. You will begin to experience spaciousness. If you observe directly, within the very experience of anger you can discover spaciousness in and around that feeling. The feeling itself will dissolve because there is noth- ing perpetuating it. As it dissolves, rest in that space. Cultivate and become more familiar with that space of openness. Cultivate openness toward yourself and toward your family rather than pushing yourself to act in a particular way. Don’t act generous when generosity is not there. Instead, cultivate openness toward whatever you are experiencing in the moment. In this way, the anger, resistance, and guilt you experience will naturally clear. As you discover and appreciate openness, a true change and shift in consciousness occurs.