When You Find The Path Too Difficult To Travel And Are Tempted To Give Up


Every time I write and share myself through this blog, it takes something. Why?  I am clear that I am an ordinary human being and as such I face a constant struggle to show up and travel in life in a manner that embodies that which I speak-share here with you.  The more mindful (attentive) I become the more I notice the gap between how I wish you to show up and travel and how I actually show up and travel.

There are times where I wonder if I am deceiving myself. I find myself asking the question: will I ever close the gap between how I wish to show and travel in the world and how I find myself showing up and travelling in the world?

The other day I came across the following passage and it has given me the access to see the situation rather differently than I had seen it. I share it with you as it may help you with your stand (in life) and your challenges.  Here it is:

A student instructed to meditate upon compassion came to his teacher in despair. “This is too hard,” he complained. “I sit and try to extend compassion to the countless beings in the world, and all the time I find myself criticising how my neighbour wears her robes, how much noise my roommate makes, how much my knees hurt, and how bad the food is. How can I ever get beyond this?”

The teacher listened patiently to the long litany of complaints, then sat and pondered for a time.

Hoping for words of reassurance or a shortcut to transcendence, the student waited expectantly.

Finally, the teacher opened her eyes and said, “These difficulties are going to be with you for the rest of your life.”

– Christina Feldman, The Best Buddhist Writing 2006

It occurs to me there is wisdom in this tale. How have I interpreted it?  I have taken it to mean that what matters is that I walk the path that I have committed myself to walking. On this path I will encounter all kinds of challenges and some of the most difficult will be those that I generate myself – including leaving the path. The key is to be attentive: to notice when I am no longer on the path and get myself back on the path as soon as I notice I have strayed from the path.

Getting back on the path is not enough. Why? Because when I stray from the path I usually tend to make some kind of mess. And to workability, the mess needs to be cleaned up in a manner that restores integrity and workability.

Is it enough simply to clean up the mess?  Yes, and I do not advise stopping there. I have got value out of looking into the matter and learning: what happened, how did it happen, what might have contributed it to happening.  The reflection has helped me notice that I stray from the path when I find myself hungry, when I find myself tired, when I find myself stressed with conflicting demands, when I take it upon myself to fix the world for others…

What Is The Cost of Being Right About Being Right?


I like to be right about being right

I say:

I like to be right,

I like to be right about being right,

I like to be right about being right about being right….

Am I addicted to being right about being right?

It occurs to me that I have just told a lie, so let me put it more accurately.

I am addicted to being right,

I am addicted to being right about being right,

I am addicted to being right about being right about being right …

Are we addicted to being right about being right?

I say that you are addicted to being right. Why am I confident that what shows up as being true for me is also true for you?  Because you and are both human beings; the same human machinery runs us.  Standing in this place it occurs to me that I still haven’t told the ‘truth’. So let me see if I can get nearer to the truth. I say:

It is in the nature of the human machinery that runs us,

to be addicted to being right,

And being right about being right,

And being right about being right about being right ….

What is the cost of being right about being right?

Yet, you and I are not merely human machinery.  We have the capacity to transcend the human machinery.  How? By seeing the human machinery. By being present, at the level of feeling, with the cost of the human machinery.  Right now I am present to the cost of being right about being right …..

What is the cost?  The cost is the lack of affinity between myself and me wife.  The cost is a certain melancholy that is present right now in my house of being.  The cost is a wasted evening yesterday. And a day without intimacy-friendship-laughter-joy today.

The choice facing me, facing you

I have a question for me, for you, for us.  What is the cost each of us have paid for being right?  What is the cost each of us have paid for being right about being right?  How many relationships have we sacrificed?  How much affinity have we given up?  How much joy have we given up?

And what is the cost am I, are you, are we, paying right now for being right about being right?

All of which reminds me of something I heard in Landmark Education some 10 years ago:

You can be right, 

Or you can be in relationship,

Choose. 

Aha: I am cause in the matter of!


I can become crazy annoyed with one of my sons.  What in particular presses my buttons and has me hopping mad?  He is talking about something, sharing something, asking for something, complaining about something.  Listening, I say something like “Enough. I don’t want to hear any more. Stop. This is not the time. No more!”  What does he do?  He continues on interrupted.

What do I take that to mean?  I give it many interpretations, many stories. And it goes something like this: he does not respect me; he is selfish; he lacks social skills; he is stupid!  What does that give rise to?  Either I leave the room or I put him down through labelling or I shout at him.  Whilst I regret this later and apologise it is true that in the moment I feel justified, even righteous.

A funny thing happened today.  Son asked me to take him to buy a torch.  We enter the store, I ask one of the clerks and we get to the section where the torches are hanging.  We pick a torch and head out to the cash tills to pay. It is late, towards closing time.  With the torch in his hand son starts moving towards and checking each of the closed tills.  I tell him they are closed. He continues. I go over take the torch from him head to the only staffed desk (Customer Services), pay and head for the car.

My son is already at the car. I open it and we both enter.  And I say “Son it occurs to me that you lack common sense..” He stops me and say “I don’t want to hear it.”  What do I do?  I carry on uninterrupted. What does he say? He says “I told you I don’t want to hear it.”  What do I do?  I continue saying what I was saying without missing a word!  What does he do?  He puts his hands over his ears.  What do I do? I continue speaking!

We get home.  What hits me?  It hits me for the very first time that I am a hypocrite.  I have just done to my son that which I detest when he does it to me.  Worse still, it hits me that this is not the first time I have done this.  Then this question hits me hard: “Am I the cause of his behaviour? Did he learn it from me?”

The answer?  Yes, it is highly likely that I am the cause in the matter of how my children show up: what they say, what they do, how they say it, how they do it….

What is present for me?  A certain humility. A recognition that I am cause in the matter of my life. And that I am reaping that which I have sown – at least when it comes to the behaviour of wife, sons, and daughter.  Sitting with that I am clear that there is no space for complaining to show up. Nor any space for me to play victim.

How about you?  Where in your life are you the cause of that which shows up in your life and of which you get righteous and complain?