It’s interesting when you consider the path you are on. Are you more focused on the path, or the destination? Do you lose the enjoyment and enlightenment of the path for your focus on the destination?
One of the things that most people strive for in life, yet never achieve is that sense of being in a place where you are completely independent of the opinions and ideas of others. No matter how rock solid your self confidence and self esteem is, we seem to always be vulnerable to some stray comment from somebody whom we don’t’ even expect has that kind of power over you.
I’m sure you’ve had that experience. You are going through your life, cruising right alone. Everything is pretty good, not perfect, but pretty good. Then out of the blue somebody makes a comment. Not a mean comment, not really. They’re notÂ a person who has any power over your life, they aren’t your boss or a decision maker, but yet, somehow that comment slips in and wriggles through your confidence self defense and festers. And the more you think about it, the more it festers and causes you to remember other incidents that are similar, creating similar emotional responses.
What’s the answer? Remove yourself completely from society? Stare straight ahead with your thickest skin and refuse to allow anyone’s comments to affect you one way or the other? That is the default defense for many, but it doesn’t allow you to let in all the comments and things people say to you that can help you feel really good.
A good way around this is to develop a state of uninsultability. No matter what you say, you can accept the good things and reject the bad things. It’s like you have a pre conscious defense shield that can acting as a sorting mechanisms for incoming information. True information that makes you feel good is let in completely. True information that doesn’t make you feel so good is split into it’s logical, data components, which are accepted for you to decide what action to take, and the emotionally charged component which is summarily rejected. Information coming in that is not true is rejected altogether.
This can be difficult to maintain, but it is possible. The secret lies in choosing to evaluate any incoming informational stimulus before your automatic emotional response has a chance to react. The more you choose to consciously practice this on a regular basis, the more space you will create between the initial external event, and the emotional reaction. Your goal in this is to insert a quick but effective moment of rational choice between the external event and the corresponding emotional response.
Most people walk around through life as biological automatons. Reacting without thinking, seemingly at the mercy of the events and opinions of others. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to live your life differently. With choice, with control with power. There is an old Buddhist story I’m reminded of.
The Buddha, and two of his young disciples were walking along the river. Suddenly a distraught man jumped out, who had apparently heard the Buddha’s last sermon, and began hurling insult after insult at him. His disciples were shocked, while the Buddha stood and only smiled. Afterwards, they asked him,
“Master, aren’t you hurt by his mean insults?”
to which the Buddha replied:
“If somebody gives you a present, and you refuse to accept it, who does it belong to?”
So I was talking my friend tonight, we went out to eat in a local restaurant that specialized in spicy food. In fact I think the restaurant name was Spicy Food, if you can imagine that. I guess the owner wasn’t able to feel really creative when he was designing the name of the restaurant. Which is kind of how some things go, you just kind of pick a name, and off you go. And I suppose that the name worked, because the place was fairly popular. We were lucky to get a table because it filled up rather quickly after we sat down. It’s not a big place, it’s actually on the third floor in a small building above a clothing boutique. Kind of like those weird shops that sell strange things that make you wonder how they manage to stay in business.
So anyways, my friend was telling me about his big plans to start up his own restaurant. He’d been checking out a lot of the local places, you know the way you do because you just feel it’s the right thing to do, right? And because you can realize this you can probably understand why my friend was making sure to go slow and make sure he was able to understand the process. Because nobody really wants to start a business and then have the business not make any money, right? Of course you realize that the most important part of a business is to make money. Or it probably should be up there on the list of important things, if indeed you are one of those people that keep lists of important things.
And it’s kind of interesting when you think about the whole concept of important things. Because what is at the top of the list of course is usually thought to be the most important thing, but what happens if stuff at the bottom is not met, how in the world can the stuff at the top important if the stuff underneath isn’t being taken care of?
For example, I was a at a lecture once given by a Buddhist Priest that was visiting from a different temple that the one we were. There were a lot of people there, and some had some from clear across the prefecture. There was one guy who took a day off work to visit this lecture, and another guy who had to bribe his wife with a day of shopping for the lecture.
AndÂ he started talking about things that we think are important, and it turns out that they really aren’t all that important, when you stop and think about it. And the things that we don’t think are important are the things that we neglect, but most of the time the things that we neglect turn out to be the most important of all.Â Unfortunately a lot of times we don’t realize important things until they are gone. It’s like we never learn to realize the significance of all that is around us. He said that we need to really understand that all of the big things in life are really made up of important little things. And without the little things, there are no big things. And one of the cool things about that, at least according to him, is that the first thing you’ll realize when you accept this simple idea is that you are literally surrounded with fantastic abundance just waiting for you to recognize it.
Like that table of really cute girls that came in to the restaurant midway through our dinner. We sure recognized them, and they sure recognized us. But I’ll leave that to another story.