In response to yesterday’s post about hiding under a bushel and hoping to be chosen, my dear pal posted on the 108 Zen Books Facebook page, “perhaps you just haven’t realized that you have been chosen….” I posted back a smart-ass comment but she’s right. About the same time, I was reading a practice tip post by Ken McLeod about our reactions to adversity. Some respond with gratitude and some with bitterness. Why?, asked a reader. McLeod’s response is here. In essence he says it’s normal to react with “Why me?” which leads to all forms anxiety in the absence of a good enough answer. In the end it comes down to accepting that you may never know why something happens to you. Then he writes that through acceptance we find a way to be with the event with equanimity:
In the case of cruelty, you recognize that, however cruel and vicious your assailant, you understand, even though it makes no rational sense. Yet you have no sense of moral superiority or righteousness.
The last sentence was a heart-opener. I had shared with a colleague the frustration of seeing someone “get ahead” despite what I saw as all his shortcomings. And digging into the raw truth I said, Why not me? Somewhere along the back-and-forth of our conversation he used the word “jealous.” While it didn’t feel right, it made me sit up and listen to my tone, examine my intention, and dig deeper. Was I really jealous? Was it about belonging in a place and space to which I was not entitled? Was it greed? Unearned assets? I’m going to need a convoy of backhoes and bulldozers to get into this one!
When I tie in McLeod’s statement of being released from a sense of moral superiority and righteousness, I can get a glimmer of what might be happening. True, I react strongly to injustice. But is righteousness the appropriate response to injustice? Is there even such a thing as a personal injustice or is that just a euphemism for self-centered? Oh dear. Pants down again!
Practice tells me that the path out of this is one of gratitude. Accepting that there are many places I will never enter. So being grateful for all the millions of hectares of space I can enter is important to see and practice seeing clearly. I’ve already been chosen. There is nothing more to add. Nothing more to demand. But it doesn’t stop there. These friends, colleagues, and teaching moments are just ingredients for the meal. They are wasted left in the fridge and no more nourishing than the poison of all hindrances.
Time to get cooking!