Tonight during my meditation class I asked my teacher a question about equanimity. She smiled and explaining that an entire course could be devoted to my question. I half jokingly asked if it could be summed up. Her response gave me this blog topic and a lot to think about. She said, “that Buddhism was not a drive thru window with quick fix answers and I needed to meditate and practice patience”.
I spent the next few day thinking and questioning whether I was practicing in a fast food way? If I answer this with honesty then I would have to say yes. A few years ago I placed an order for one mala, a large Buddha statue, 4 dharma books, a cushion, oh don’t forget my order of Buddhist terminology, an empowerment, and throw in some sangha friends. I pulled up paid the fees of a supporting member and donated to a few charities, I then looked in my bag of Buddhism to make sure the order was correct and everything was there. Umm excuse me I think you left out my enlightenment. Hello! I don’t see enlightenment in the bag it should have come with my dharma meal!
I know it seems a bit funny but isn’t that the American way. Isn’t “Have it your way” a slogan that sums up this country. I grew up thinking I could make changes to suit myself but still receive the benefits as if nothing changed. I can see that mentality when I reflect back on my practice. I have skipped a day or week of meditation. I have flipped on Young and the Restless instead of opening a dharma book. I have practiced kindness on those I already like while continuing my distaste for the people I didn’t care for. I also walk along with indifference to a backdrop of people in the world that I don’t even see. I justified the glass of wine, the occasional steak, the lack of patience with the kids, and my lacking compassion for family and friends when they are feeling ill or financially strapped. Yet I become baffled when enlightenment evades me. I get discouraged when each virtuous act is not met with praise. I have even become bored when clarity did not happen after the shortest of meditations.
So why do I give less and expect more? Why do I put meditation off for another day? Why do I continue to put my needs over the entire worlds day after day? Buddha left his family behind and devoted his life to ending suffering. He sat under one Bodhi tree for 49 days straight in meditation to awaken. I sit for 45 minutes and peek at the meditation timer to see if I am almost done. Maybe I expect more than I give because I live in a country where feeling good and instant gratification have a higher value than accountability and responsibility. I put meditation off because I have an unrealistic view on my control over death. I feel as if I still have time. When in reality I have no knowledge of how much time I have. I cherish myself more because that is all I have ever done and all that I know.
How do I make the changes needed and engage fully in Buddhism. Patience and perseverance are imperative. I need to become mindful and practice kindness. I must stop looking for the shortcuts. Recognize and rejoice the time I have put in, shown up, studied, and meditated. Then study dharma, meditate on dharma, apply dharma and repeat over and over and over.
**I am getting there one breathe at a time. **
Peace and Flowers