Sunday, July 5, 2015

Setting Priorities: On Not Misinterpretting

Just two words on the slogan card this time:
Don't misinterpret.
All I could think upon reading that was, "that's all well and good to say one shouldn't misinterpret, but how are we to know when we are interpreting correctly and when we are otherwise?" So of course I turned to my commentaries. The translation offered by is even more confounding: "Don't get things wrong." I'm not Buddha. I'm still subject to samsara and am still a work in progress. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to get things wrong. Their brief explanation helped a bit, by putting this tenet in context. However, it added other confusion:
"When an attitude, behavior, or relationship pulls you out of balance and presence, you are not bringing attention to what is arising. Use taking and sending to experience the imbalance itself."
So, when you make a mistake and get out of balance, use taking and sending to fully experience the mistake? What?

Then, as frequently happens, Judy Lief made things make sense.
"This slogan focuses on six qualities - patience, yearning, excitement, compassion, priorities, and joy - and how they can be misinterpreted. More generally, the point is to see how we can twist things so that our avoidance of the dharma is considered to be a virtue rather than a fault."
Am I being patient only with myself and with people I like, or am I practicing patience with those who harm me and those I love? Am I yearning for another nerdy t-shirt or book or other worldly possession, or am I yearning for the opportunity to practice loving-kindness? Am I looking for a way to practice the dharma, or am I using the words of the dharma to further entrench without changing? What are my priorities?

I know my priorities aren't in line with my ambitions, and I'd already been thinking about that. Spending less time doing things like surfing the net and binging on series on Netflix, more time reading and doing things intentionally. So I think this week's exercise will help me in general. Lief recommends:
"Start with the misinterpretation of priorities. List out your main activities for a week, and calculate how much time you spend on each category, such as work, sleep, TV, study, practice, socializing, etc. What does this tell you about your priorities? What would need to shift to free up a little time for dharma practice?"
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

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