Thursday, July 10, 2008
I'm suffering bouts of migraine and am feeling intermittent fatigue (is that a real condition?). Worse of all, or possibly as a result of it all, I'm wallowing in despair amidst piles of clothes and boxes filled with random stuff I can't decide whether or not to toss. I don't seem to have a cold. Why is this so?
I remember once during senior year of college, how I got quite ill. Then, my head felt REALLY heavy and I had SO much trouble sleeping it made me cry. My throat felt as dry as the Sahara, and I couldn't eat anything for fear of throwing up. When I finally dragged myself to the doctor's office 2 days into the what felt like extreme symptoms, the doctor said perplexed, "I can't tell what's wrong with you." That was when Chris who wasn't the bf then told me very gently, "You're the only person I know who can drive herself physically sick through mental reasons."
Sometimes I wonder if he's always right.
In my "condition," I turned to the Dalai Lama's teachings because I remembered the one thing he said that touched me the most. Verse I from Training the Mind comes in a long paragraph, but here's the bit of information I was referring to:
The Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Bodhicaryavatara) says that there is a phenomenological difference between the pain that you experience when you take someone else's pain upon yourself and the pain that comes directly from your own pain and suffering. In the former, there is an element of discomfort because you are sharing the other's pain; however, as Shantideva points out, there is also a certain amount of stability because, in a sense, you are voluntarily accepting that pain. In the voluntary participation in other's suffering there is strength and a sense of confidence. But in the latter case, when you are undergoing your own pain and suffering, there is an element of involuntariness, and because of the lack of control on your part, you feel weak and completely overwhelmed. In the Buddhist teachings on altruism and compassion, certain expressions are used such as "One should disregard one's own well-being and cherish other's well-being." It is important to understand these statements regarding the practice of voluntarily sharing someone else's pain and suffering in their proper context.
One can easily detach oneself from one's own misery if one attempts to help another who's suffering from worse fate. This selflessness then becomes a virtue that ultimately benefits oneself. It's quite possible His Holiness didn't mean it that way but that's part of what I got from it.
*No I'm not religious.
** And no, it's not "trickle down" from Friday night.