Monday, September 16, 2013

My Reality is Terrible

Note: This is a letter I wrote today to a prisoner. We write these letters to encourage their Buddhist practice.

Dear A,

I should preface this by saying that I live a pretty idyllic life. I have wonderful friends, good health, ample resources, and freedom. I’m not sure how I would be in your situation. I admire your efforts to survive.

I enclose Buddha’s sutta on the Dart. When you say “my reality is terrible” you are expressing your idea of your reality. Reality in itself is neither terrible nor wonderful. Some who have “everything” are miserable and others in dire circumstances love every moment they are alive.
I read about monkeys who were performing tasks for rewards. As long as they received the same reward for the same task, they were happy. But when one received less than the other, he was angry. He might have been satisfied with the lesser reward had he not experienced his buddy getting more. We see the "deprived" monkey constructing a reality that causes him great anguish.

The good news is that one can choose their view of their reality. In the sutta, the Buddha speaks of two darts that come from pain. One is the pain itself, and the second is that pain that we create. For the time being you are stuck in a physical environment. This includes your body, your cell, the other inmates, the guards, etc. This is a given. It is up to you to determine what are you going to do. Are you going to suffer or thrive? The second dart is the one created in our minds. That is the one you need to look at if you want to relieve your suffering.

You say that peace is “really hard when a bunch of jerks act stupid.” Letting your peace become dependent on others is stupid. They do what they do. You create a judgment about their actions … and you let that judgment affect your happiness. It is you against them.

Instead, embrace them. They are your brothers and they are doing their best to cope as you are. Show them some kindness and they will respond with kindness.

Eckankar appears to be a cult like Scientology and Hare Krishna. I’m not sure that all organizations aren’t partly a cult. They want followers and work hard to get and retain them. I suggest you take their literature and throw it away. And telling others why they are a cult to you sounds like a responsible thing to do. I don’t think the United Nations will pursue them as they have their plate full with what they probably consider to be more important human rights violations.

I liked your story of the monk and the tigress. Our minds look at actions in various ways and judge these actions according to our perspective.
Take care and let me know how it goes … accepting that you are the creator of your reality … and as the creator, being the one who can change it.

Mr. Kim


Kim Mosley said...

My best critic (realizing that I have many "bests") told me that I should consider being reflective rather than directive (asking rather than telling). After teaching for almost 40 years, this is a little hard to take. But part of me knows that she's probably right. Trouble is, I prefer people to be directive, so maybe that's why I act that way. I'm curious what others think. Is the letter too directive? Should I have said, "when you say, "my reality is terrible" do you think there might be another way to construct your view of reality? What do you all think?

bodhidave said...

The message I hear in this letter reminds me of the story Jack Kornfield tells of himself as a young monk in Thailand. He had recently become a resident in a monastery there, and one day in the early going the abbot asked him how things were going with his meditation practice. Something like the following dialog ensued:
"Things are going ok, but I must say, I'm finding this a surprisingly noisy place. And the noises, frankly, are bothering me."
The abbot said, "Oh, I rather suspect it is you that is bothering the noises. Try to leave them alone. Don't bother them."

KnittingDays said...

I hope the prisoner you're addressing,will not read this comments,and be able ,with confidence, use your good,and direct advise. Thanks for sharing your thinking,Kim.

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