In my moment of desperation last night, I committed an act that I would regard as a personal breakthrough: I posted a personal ad on Craigslist to seek a friendly voice that would somehow soothe my tortured soul. And to my surprise, even though I’ve always been suspicious about advertising yourself, I’m today richer by a few friends and quality conversations. Perhaps, all I need, or all anyone ever needs is to be understood.
What’s nice about all the messages I’ve received is knowing that I’m not alone in the world. And part of that is knowing that people from all walks of life share your concerns, not just people who are exactly like you. Just when I’ve given up hope and sunk one foot into despair, I feel like I can take a deep breath, walk out my door and face the day’s battles again… well at least for another day, and that’s probably more than anyone can ever ask for. That is to go through the motions of another day and hope for the best in the next.
Many of you wanted to know what I was upset about. Looking back a day later, it all seems very silly — I guess most things in life, even the most serious ones, seem trivial the next day. You might have guessed that there was an encounter with someone who was obviously mean, and that this someone made me feel stupid or small. What started as a great day ended a really bad one. I felt like the end of the night was like a dark, stifling hole, not unlike the inside of a washing machine, where I was being roughed up over and over and over again. And I think the severity of how I felt is the result of feeling uncertain and crappy for a really long time. So, it’s really the accumulation of a lot of frustrations and the big impending 30th birthday that’s coming up.
Okay, slap me for being vague here. :p I’ll just leave you with a piece of certain information. I wanted to offer people a glimmer of hope with the following passage, and someone (figuratively) slapped me in the face and made me feel stupid and naive. I’m not usually easily offended, but this person and his self-appointed superiority put me down in front of a lot of people — when all I wanted to do was to share a passage that has made a difference in my life, both as a person and as a Buddhist. What I wanted to share is that even though you know that suffering and pain are facts of life, life is still worth living because of the experience in itself. The journey is worth the trouble, despite of the resolution.
“Whether later this child becomes old, and sees the terror and fury of life, still he has, at this moment, been joyful and beautiful,” insists the narrator.
And so it’s pleasure, and no pain, to lick a razor blade covered in honey? counters Tsong Khapa.
“If in licking the honey, I licked the edge of the razor and gashed my tongue, it would only be pain,” answers the narrator.
“So licking honey, when below there is a razor blade that slashes your tongue to ribbons – is this a pleasure?” Tsong Khapa asks.
“No, we have already said that,” barks the seeker.
“So when a pleasure is necessarily and always accompanied by an infinitely greater suffering, then we can say that this is no pleasure?”
“Yes!” I said triumphantly. “Yes!” he said triumphantly, and showed me the face of the child: joyful, beautiful, and nothing but suffering.
Maybe after reading this, you might come to the same conclusion that I’m stupid. But at least I’m stupid with good intentions.