Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Self-Cherishing

During my meditation this weekend, I keep being distracted by an incident where I was yelled at unfairly. Not to say that I could not have handled this particular situation more tactfully, but it was basically a case of a superior acting unprofessionally and me trying to please the superior as well as the client who was being treated poorly by this superior. It was an unfavorable position to be in.

Now that the moment has past and I have had some time to think about it, I'm still troubled by what happened, although I shouldn't be. What I'd really like to think is, "ok this happened, but I know I was just trying to do my job and this person has their own issues, so I'm going to move on and continue to do my job to the best of my ability."

Instead, I find myself holding on to this incident and brooding, and taking it personally. I'm thinking,  "how could this superior treat me like this?" When really, as I think about it more rationally, this person treats everyone poorly at times and reacts to everything right in the damn moment. This person is not going to change and it was definitely not personal when they yelled at me the other day. Should they have yelled at me? Probably not, but as I said before, I should have been more discreet if I was going to do something they flat out asked me not to do. (I know this may be a little difficult to follow since I'm not stating what happened specifically, but this is a public blog and I can't discuss the matter in any more detail than I am.)

The whole, "how could someone treat me like this" part reminds me of something that was said by the instructor at the meditation center when I last went. He was saying how people are always acting so surprised that bad things happen to them.

His point was, why wouldn't bad things happen to you? Bad things happen all the time. So yeah, who am I to think I'm so special as to not get yelled at when everyone else who crosses this person's path in a time of stress gets it too?

Great points Buddha man, but I still got more upset than I should have and I'm still not looking forward to seeing this person on Monday. I think all of these things can be considered quite normal/natural, so I can forgive myself for having these feelings. But the longer I hold onto this incident, the longer I suffer. To me this is a classic case of a self-cherishing mind, which is one of the delusions often discussed in Buddhism. The simplest way I would explain self-cherishing is the classic "thinking the whole world revolves around you" concept, cherishing yourself above all others. For a long time, I was like, "well yeah I would be concerned for myself above everyone because I have to BE myself all the time, no break." Another more, irrational thought I've had in times of weakness is, "I definitely don't cherish myself above others because I hate myself."

But come on people, how self-centered is that last sentence, and how focused on one's own suffering does a person have to be to think, "wah, I hate myself."? Seriously, I've been there folks and I know it feels a lot more complicated than that, but what is depression? Just a great big pity party. And guess what? All parties have to end sometime. That's what I try to focus on when I'm upset. I think to myself, "yeah, I'm in a bad mood, but I won't be in a bad mood forever, I might even feel better in a hour, who knows?"

There is no point in being upset that you're upset. Try it next time. Instead of being like, "crap, I'm so upset and this is why and this is why it sucks!"

Instead try to think(as my Buddhist instructor once said), "I'm upset, that's interesting." Accept it, let yourself be human, but try not to use it as an excuse to self-cherish and wallow in your own bad fortune. But if you do end up wallowing, no biggie, no one is perfect. Just recognize and try not to do it next time, or do it for less time. I've said it once and I'll say it again. It takes practice folks.

That's all for now, if you happened to follow that, go have a cookie!

1 comment:

  1. That's probably my biggest issue with a certain liver transplant patient. She announced that she doesn't believe in God any more because something bad happened to her.

    Yeah. Not of course taking into account the literally MILLIONS of good things that happened to her before, during and after she's been sick. It's just that we're culturally (and maybe genetically) conditioned to focus on the bad sides of things more than the good sides of things.

    Anyway. After a physically exhausting (but professionally and personally exhilarating) weekend for me, I'm continuing to come back to your thing about the practicality of being a Buddhist in a contemporary world. I dunno. I simply didn't have the time or energy to meditate this weekend. So... yeah. I'm still tired. But pretty happy.