Sunday, February 22, 2015

Keeping Balance: On Not Transferring the Ox's Load to the Cow (or the Donkey)

This week's slogan didn't resonate with me at first, even after going through all my normal research.
Don't transfer the ox's load to the cow.
Of course, being who I am, the first thing that came to mind after I read the slogan was the opening of Cow and Chicken, but once I was done singing that a couple of times, I moved onto the research.

Because I've found such help there over the course of this blog, I decided to turn to Judy Lief's piece at the Tricyle website first. The whole of her short discussion seems to look at concepts like false modesty and shifting responsibility at work and in our personal lives. I, on the other hand, tend to think false modesty is bunk. Further, I've got a bad habit of taking on too much at once and saying yes to everyone. Learning to delegate is one of the biggest challenges I've had in my professional career. At the very end of Lief's piece, just before her suggestions for applying this teaching to our daily lives, she did share one idea that started to help this come into focus for me:
"This slogan is also about developing skill in working with others. It is an art to know how much responsibility to take on yourself and how much to direct to each of the people you are working with so that each person feels challenged but not overwhelmed."
That's when it started to click that, even if I'm the ox and others are the cow, I still need to figure out a balance.

I turned next to the place where I had been starting in the past. Now, the translation provided by isn't different enough to share it here, but the brief explanatory paragraph did begin my understanding of this teaching:
"Life is what you experience. What you experience is your life. Don't try to shift the unpleasantness your reactive patterns bring you onto another person."
I could help but think of all the times I've said things like, "They're too busy to add something else to their plate, so I'm not even going to ask for help because I know they'll say, 'no.'" It's a different way of shifting blame for the unpleasantness, but I think it's still within the scope of this tenet.

So, instead of following Lief's advice, "Pay attention to the temptation to shift your burdens to those who are weaker than you," I'm going to reverse it and pay attention to the temptation to shift the burdens from others to myself. I'm going to keep that poor donkey up there (which was the picture accompanying the Unfettered Minds post) in mind.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

To Pounce or Not To Pounce: On Not Bringing Things to a Painful Point


Those cats in the gif are (mostly) just playing. If you look elsewhere, you'll find pictures and videos of these two cuddled up and friendly. Trust me, I'm a big fan of their blog so I know. 

But this kind of angry or even play-angry pouncing cat behavior is exactly what came to mind as I was reading up on this lojong teaching:
Don't bring things to a painful point.
On the surface, it's kind of a no-brainer. Why bring things to a painful point? The whole goal for my studying Buddhism is to ease away from the sometimes painful noise in my head, right? But then I started digging for commentary.

The first thing that stood out to me as relevant from Judy Lief's piece was a doozy: 
"We all have lots of faults, and it is easy to get caught up in dwelling on them. It is easy to see all the things that are wrong about everyone and everything else as well."
I'm completely guilty of focusing on my own faults, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Further, I a keen eye for the faults of others. I try not to be overly judgmental, but sometimes it's really hard to stop. We need to be able to judge safe or unsafe, useful or not useful, but it's easy to get into a habit of judging every little aspect of every little thing. Even more than baseball, I sometimes think judging others is the "Great American Passtime."

When Lief moves onto discuss the aim of this tenet, she does so succinctly:
"According to this slogan, instead of pouncing on people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we should be providing encouragement and support for their strengths."
I already do this to a certain extent. I've embraced a philosophy of management known as Strengths Based Leadership, but this teaching is making me think I need to expand that view beyond the workplace and even beyond my group of friends. This is going to take a serious amount of thinks, since I've yet to find a consistent way to draw the line between healthy judgement - I shouldn't walk down that dark alley alone at night with a $100 sticking out of my back pocket - and unhealthy judgement. However, I know one of my own strengths is perseverance, so I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

Lief's advice for practice is going to be hard, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try:
"Notice the quality of faultfinding, which can take place on a light level or on a more going-for-the-jugular scale. When you find yourself caught in this pattern, notice your motivation. When you have difficulty with a person, can you see beyond their faults? Can you find a positive potential to build on, even if it seems small?"
The next time I get caught in the rut of judging, I'll try to bring this idea to mind.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Breathing and Just Being: On Not Waiting in Ambush


I know: it's been a while. "Better late than never" feels like a hollow apology, but I'm going to have to go with that. Things get busy, and it's unfortunate but this blog tends to fall by the wayside first. But so long as I keep coming back to it, so long as I don't give up, it's okay. I really believe that.

Regardless of any self-derision, I want to move onto the new slogan:
Don't wait in ambush. 
Alternatively, according to "Don't lie in ambush." This didn't resonate as a problem for me, but I'm committed to this line of study no matter what. That means I did look further, to the brief explanatory paragraph:
"You wait in ambush because you seek revenge. Do taking and sending with the anger that drives the revenge."
I'll admit I tried to get even with people a couple of times when I was much younger, but I realized I was hurting myself more than I was hurting them and I lost interest in the idea. So I turned to Tricycle. Once again, I found myself grateful for Judy Lief's insight:
"This slogan is about scheming mind, the mind that never forgets a slight or an insult. Instead it keeps eating away at us, sometimes for years, and even decades." 
I may not seek revenge, but I have been known to hold a grudge. I work to forgive, and frequently am able to do so, but it's rare that I forget. And then, towards the end of her short piece, I found something even more resonant:
"Those remembered insults we hold onto so tightly have taken over our mind. By working with this slogan, we can free ourselves from that unhealthy pattern." 
And all I could think of was the stereotypical little kid, like Agnes up there, holding onto their breath like it's going to change anything. Really, the only person it harms is the child. And holding onto past hurts, whether I seek revenge or not, is only going to hurt me. I need to learn to stop holding my breath. I need to learn to breath and just let things be. That's why, even though the slogan itself didn't seem relevant, Lief's advice for putting it into action did:
"In the present, notice your response when somebody insults you. What is the physical sensation and what thoughts arise in your mind?
Looking back, do a grudge survey.  How many grudges have you been carrying with you, and for how long? How does it feel to carry a grudge, and how does it feel when the grudge softens or dissolves or you consciously let it go?"
I've done it before. I remember how good I felt when I realized I'd let go of my anger about my divorce. If I can forgive and forget that, I can forgive and forget anything. I will need to work on it, but I know I can do it.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.