Friday, November 4, 2011

Monkey Brains, III: From Pema Chodron, Help With Becoming Generous

I struggle with needing things to go a certain way.  Here's what a wise teacher has to say:
The basic idea of generosity is to train in thinking bigger, to do ourselves the world's biggest favor and stop cultivating our own scheme...The journey of generosity is one of connecting with the (fundamental richness inherent in each moment), the wealth that is the nature of everything. It is not "ours" or "theirs" but is always available to everyone. In raindrops, in blood drops, in heartache and delight...
by Pema Chodron

The journey of generosity is one of connecting with this wealth, cherishing it so profoundly that we are willing to begin to give away whatever blocks it. 
From When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times


I want to give a gift to someone I love, because I see--painfully--that I have taken something from her.  Being in a position of authority, I continually exert pressure based on my view of how things should go for her.  What I can do is give her a break. I can practice trust.  Practice isn't perfection. It's...practice!

This commitment cuts to the heart of my biggest weakness.  For me the issue goes pretty deep, of course, but an illustration will suffice: When I am caught off guard, say when I come home from a trip and notice a mess in the house that accumulated while I was away--funny how I notice the small mess, not the large effort others have made to clean up--when the physical environment seems on the verge of decay because things aren't where I think they should be, I feel groundless.  Fearful. I flail around inwardly, and I cope by using my dominance in the family, my verbal acuity, get people to get things to shape up.  It's THEIR responsibility, right? After all, I wasn't there to make the mess.

Insecurity? --Control!

This has hurt the people I live with.

How does generosity apply here?  Offering a credit card, a trip to the mall would be easy, but it wouldn't be a healing generosity.

...the real transformation takes place when we let go of our attachments and give away what we think we can't.  What we do on the outer level has the power to loosen up deep-rooted patterns of holding onto ourselves.  

The strongest urge in myself will be to "yell," to use my considerable skill with language to control and dominate.  I can even get away with this in front of therapists--I've observed it happen!  The gift I can give the person in question is to accept the discomfort of feeling groundless. To sit in quiet meditation with the feelings that disaster will result in her life if I don't intervene.  Just hang out, me and the feelings.  To take the bullet myself, so to speak.  And, life being the messy animal that it is, when I get up again I will have to make the uncomfortable choice to intervene--sometimes.

Sitting with that fear, honoring it for its creative energy (boy, do I get a lot done based on my delusion that I hold the universe together!!), but not trying to control the outcome: all of these are gifts I can give the person I love.

She'll feel the difference. And nothing will need to be said. 

2 comments:

Catherine Stine said...

Lovely post. One we should all practice more.

HelenQP said...

Ah, thank you! The good news is, we can always learn from our messes.