“You can discover a lot about your practice while you’re driving.” That’s one of the greatest pieces of advice that I received studying the Dharma at my local temple.
One of my English Dharma teachers, a tall, strapping man, added this wisdom to one of our discussions on the meditation hall floor, and then smiled in his gentle way giving a little chuckle.
Every time I mutter, “You jackass,” under my breath while I’m behind the wheel, I think of what he told me, and am reminded that practice is never-ending. Opportunity exists in every moment. I am reminded that I need to keep being present, aware, and, during those days when practice is outweighed by frustration, out of reach of a firearm.
“Jackasses! “I found myself muttering to myself on my way to the office this morning. Ah yes, there it is, my practice failing. I can see the vapours of it twisting and turning and disappearing into thin air with the breath from my angry,less than sublime rush-hour, mumbling.
I have come to realize that the more ‘jackasses’ there are on the road, the more I need to sit and breathe and meditate . Perhaps even take a mini-holiday with a gin and tonic on the rocks.
But I’ve always been a believer in the idea that you can’t really practice if you aren’t really living, and living means interacting with other people on the planet who have their own ideas, agendas and values. That really sucks doesn’t it?
That means that I can’t sit in the peace of my little green space, wrapped in a wispy slip of thin cotton, sipping tea all day and rambling around in my own mind with my own ideas thinking that I’m doing wonderfully well, and nearly achieving sainthood.
Crap, it always looks so darn easy on the pamphlet!!!
So, although my nature is to withdraw when I’m tired, and rest is highly undervalued in our society, I do know that there is a priceless alchemy between friends. It is that magical exchange that can rejuvenate faster than any tonic, ten-day retreat, or gin on the rocks with a juicy wedge of lime.
Today I had the good fortune of sharing the company of a friend I haven’t seen in over a year. Despite a year passing, it feels like I just saw him yesterday. Our friendship holds no obligation.
We discussed personal leadership, professional impotence, service, poetry, writing and being responsible for our own success or failure. It was a breath of intellectual and friendly fresh air that I am deeply grateful for.
Believe it or not, there wasn’t a single jackass on the road during my drive home. Hmm?
When everyone else is a jackass, perhaps it’s because I have my jackass sighting eyes turned on. Perhaps it just takes someone you trust enough to help you choose another view, through different eyes, so you witness the world with gratitude again;the gift of presence, the value of creating, and power of choice.