I'm re-blogging this post I wrote some time ago - apologies to those who have read it. A situation arose the other day which reminded me of how much I have moved on from a situation that caused so much mental suffering - it was only through spiritual practise that I was able to do so.
I have always tried to 'walk the talk', to 'practise what I preach' - so to speak. To me it is a fundamental part of authentic spiritual practise - living your beliefs, embodying them as a representative of your particular faith. That's not to say you can't falter - we are human after all!
I remember being at a spiritual retreat many years ago and I was very surprised and somewhat shocked when someone I knew well - who had been a staunch spiritual practitioner for many years, spoke about the difficulty he had applying his teachings to his daily life.
The eight auspicious Buddhist symbols
At the time I was a relative newcomer to my chosen path, but even so I had always tried to live my practise. To me it is an intrinsic part of being on a spiritual path in the first place. Living your teachings is fundamental to spiritual growth, adhering to your beliefs even in really challenging situations - those moments that inevitably come along to confront you, when it is so easy to jump into the accompanying surge of emotion that wants to sweep you along with it.
Before, I jumped. Once I started living my practise, I paused, stepped aside - into a space that let me become an observer instead of a participant, watched the surge dissipate. Came away from the whole sorry situation a better person. A conversation recently got me thinking about 'walking the talk' the other day.
I was asked how I had overcome the deep pain that had been inflicted on my family and I through the 'un-enlightened' actions of another. I thought instantly of this Buddhist Bodhisattva prayer;
image sourced: freedigitalphotos.net
May all beings enjoy happiness
And have whatever causes happiness
May they be free from suffering
And whatever causes suffering
May they never be separated from the
Pure happiness which is without suffering
May they remain in great equanimity
Beyond attachment or aversion, to things near and far.
This particular situation had dragged on for some years. It was one of the worst things my family has been through. It was profoundly challenging and extremely difficult. I got to point - which I admit did take some time - where I knew that I had to get back to a place of peace. The pain and suffering was causing me too much damage. That meant being more diligent, going deeper, more intently into my spiritual practise.
After a time I automatically started to include this person in my daily meditation visualisations - it's something I do regularly for family and friends who need healing. One day I just popped her in there, saw her surrounded in peace, genuinely wished protection, health and happiness for her, understood that her harsh actions came from a place of ignorance, that - like everyone of us, what she most wanted in life was kindness, peace and love.
I kept doing this everyday until it became second nature to me, until finally - when I occasionally caught myself dwelling once again on what had happened, there was no reaction, the pain was gone, the intensity that use to come with the emotions attached to it, had dissipated as though they had never been.
And then one day, the situation turned. She stepped forward instead of back. Things healed, became as they should be. That to me is the power of authentic spiritual practise. The power of this prayer - seeing ourselves reflected in each other. Understanding that compassion - if lived and practised authentically, has no boundaries. No limitation.
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