#12 – Drive all blames into one.
Pema: This is advice on how to work with your fellow beings. Everyone is looking for someone to blame and therefore aggression and neurosis keep expanding. Instead, pause and look at what’s happening with you. When you hold on so tightly to your view of what they did, you get hooked. Your own self-righteousness causes you to get all worked up and to suffer. So work on cooling that reactivity rather than escalating it. This approach reduces suffering—yours and everyone else’s.
I can say that my day did not really lead to aggression over what someone did, but there may be minor items. Are there really minor aggressions? I think not. It is only a thin veil over the rage that we hide from others, including ourselves.
Sometimes this so-called minor aggression is irritation or annoyance. We drive to the store and another driver cuts us off. Sometimes it doesn’t bother us and other times it does and we blow our top.
Saying this now, I realized a situation from this morning. I feel this sometimes with my next door neighbor. He is elderly and I know yesterday he was trying to be helpful as he moved my garbage cans back up to our house from the driveway. He proceeds to put them in front of the garage door for my car (we have two garage doors). I try to stop him by saying, “Thank you, but I’ll get it.” I only felt slight annoyance, but I know this stems from the day my husband came home from deployment in 2018, still in uniform, and he came over to him to talk about the boundaries of our two homes. We had moved in about a year or so beforehand.
I know this is a lens at times that I see this neighbor whether it is when he rides his lawnmower at what I feel are inconvenient moments, the snowblower, or other putzing around his home he does. I rise to irritation and annoyance because of my hidden anger about the day in Summer 2018 that he accosted my husband about boundary lines and the fact that our lawn service who was feeding our lawn, fed the edge of his too, thus his decrepit, weed-filled lawn was becoming lush at the edges.
Damn, can my mind complain!
All of this is about me. Looking within to my own mind and heart and releasing the grip of my own suffering. Does it really all matter? No, because I only make it matter. Just as I look out for myself, he is only doing the same.
What is happening to me in these moments? It is rising from the ancient, worn out messages spoken and unspoken, of how I am not respected or cared about. We think we see it out there in the world, but it is truly within our own mind. Applying loving-kindness certainly helps to see myself, my neighbor, and all the world with gentleness and compassion.
The next card for 4/16 is #23 – Always abide by the three basic principles.
Pema Chödrön’s Compassion Cards – This practice is lojong (mind-training slogans) and they are powerful reminders on how to awaken our hearts. They are also found in “The Compassion Book.” You choose the cards at random, read the commentary, and then try to live by the meaning of the slogan throughout the day.