Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Patience of Teaching

One thing I've found myself working hard on lately is my mental tendency to want to "fix" others whom I see as participating in deluded or ignorant behavior, such as becoming impatient over trifling matters or speaking behind someone else's back. Isn't this an error in which the vast majority of us participate? We see the efficacy of an idea, and we want to inject it into other people's lives - often using the grossest and most inelegant means available to us.

Of course, we don't ever ending up helping anybody like this. Usually, we just piss off all of our friends and relations, while feeding our ego-delusions about how "good" and "spiritual" we're being.

Jesus' words about living in glass houses, and about not seeing the log of wood in one's own eye, go a long way here. If I'm fixated on the behavior of others, I'm obviously not tending to my own mental state.

Beyond that, I'm also viewing this tendency as a form of impatience. Someone on E-Sangha wrote recently about how his wife slowly started practicing Buddhadharma after noticing over a period of months how relaxed and calm he had become. And isn't that the way to do it?? This way, we're not only being compassionate toward others, we're also preserving our practice of the paramita of patience. If I keep deluding myself into believing I can change the world overnight, I'm not going to accomplish anything outside of turning myself into a bitter ex-Buddhist.

One of my family signs all of his messages with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." I doubt St. Francis ever foresaw a Western Tibetan Buddhist putting these words into the service of the Dharma, but I can't imagine he'd be terribly displeased either.

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