Sunday, March 3, 2013

Continuing With the Love Lesson

Today was another day spent at the bedside of my mother. She barely acknowledged me, and slept most of the time. 

I am continuing to wrestle with regret, remorse, sorrow, and self-forgiveness. And turning to Ayya Khema for much needed wisdom [relevant excerpts from her talk on Metta with my commentaries]:

If we start blaming ourselves or others for all the things that we do wrong, we'll never stop blaming. It's a totally useless activity, because for any negativity that we have and heap blame on top of, it means we've then got two negativities. What we would like is to get rid of negativity. So instead of blaming we look at it, accept it, and change it.

Yes, stopping right there, the regret, the remorse, the self-blame. With the understanding that the heart can only open as much as it is able, depending on causes and conditions, not least of all, the presence of mindfulness.

It's human beings that we need to work with. All of us have that opportunity constantly, and there's no excuse not to do it, because this is actually what our life is all about. It's an adult education class. We've asked the question already: "What am I supposed to do with my life?" Well, it's very simple: this is an adult education class. That's all life is all about. Now, if we were going to school still, we would have exams, wouldn't we? In school they were usually kind enough to tell us when the exam would be, and they usually also told us what the exam topic was, so we could at least bone up on it and try to learn as much about it as possible. Well, we've got exams in daily life all the time, but nobody tells the date nor the topic, so we've got to be constantly ready. And just as in school, if we don't pass the exams, we going to be put back and have to do the class over again. Daily life is the same -- if we don't pass the exam, we get the whole thing over again. Next time it might be called Mary instead of Pauline, or John instead of Tom -- whatever it may be, but it's the same lesson over again. So instead of being unprepared when all these exams come about, the best thing to do is to use our daily lives as an adult education class and see what we can learn from each encounter.

Just learning to love, and accepting the limits of one's heart. I, we are all students in the matter of love.

At the same time, we also need to realize that we only have this one moment. The past is gone, irrevocably gone. We can learn from it. We can see some of the things that we might have done differently, and could do differently now, but that's all.

That's all. Not dwelling in ideas about the past, those fabrications of the mind that can hinder the possibilities of this present moment. The truth is, my heart has opened completely to receiving her love, and giving her love as well. No one else is asking since when. 

Many people find it difficult to love themselves -- sometimes because they know themselves too well. [laughter] Which means that they're judging. We don't have to judge ourselves, we can just love ourselves. Judging ourselves and loving ourselves do not have to be in the same breath. We can first love this manifestation of universal existence which we call "Me." And then, if we really want to make some changes, we can find out what needs to be changed, but we don't have to mix up those two, we don't have to mix up our bad qualities with our love for ourselves. They don't have anything to do with each other. 

Not making the mistake of placing a condition on self-love. I am not perfect, I made mistakes, I did not love her as I could have. That does not mean I cannot love myself.

Another important step is seeing, not only that we share everything, but also that our own difficulties need to be treated with compassion. Not with the idea, "I should have known better, I could do better, or somebody else has done it to me." Just compassion. Compassion is a very important entry into love. The two are very connected, and they're also interchangeable. The far enemy of compassion, of course, is cruelty, but the near enemy is pity. We're not sorry for ourselves or for others. We need to have empathy, not pity. "Com" is "with," "passion" = "feeling," with feeling. Empathy.

Holding myself with great tenderness, and understanding. I did not know better then. It's taken me all this time, and that's the way it is. 

We weren't brought here into this life to be engaged as judge and jury. Nobody gave us that job. It's self-appointed. [laughter] And this self-appointment is not even pleasurable -- doesn't pay anything in the first place -- and it only makes difficulty. But we can drop all this judge and jury business; at least try. In the beginning, one does it a little. It's much easier to love.

That last final point is enough.

Tell me about your own tales of learning to forgive yourself, and your journey to love.


  1. Sometimes it is way too easy to heap on the blame. Not only upon ourselves, but at times others as well.

    I have tried to take on the idea and maybe challenge of this-

    If I don't like how things are- What can I do to help, change it or in some way make it better? If I don't have an answer, I don't have any room to complain. This is usually a good way to silence complainers in the world

  2. These two posts together paint a powerful picture of the relationships so many of us experience with our parents as we grow into compassion. Beautiful, spot-on, moving, encouraging - thank you.