That’s a question I struggle with these days. What faster progress do I think I need to make? By now, shouldn’t I be more peaceful and less identified with the “causes and conditions” which make up the self I see in the mirror? My uncertainty still brings discomfort. Not knowing feels bad. And I could do with some assurance that it’s okay to be on the way, my way, at my pace.
At this point, I find myself to be a slow-learner, fumbling through written instructions, and unskillful being told what to do, even when I've agreed. I struggle to remember to what I have commited. It’s even an effort to schedule these commitments into the calendar on my smart phone. I’ve come face to face with the unpleasant truth that making and keeping whole-hearted commitments isn’t what I am good at.
Furthermore, I’m finding it hard to confess that I often don’t understand what I am being told. Perhaps, I strive for a “wise elder façade.” Sometimes I fantasize holding up my hand and asking a teacher: “Say it some other way so I will understand." Of course this is out of the question, until I decide to try it.
Even as I look at being a good practitioner, I see how important it is to set boundaries, to value my own beliefs and opinions, and to comfortably stand up for my values without getting defensive. I want something other than anger to empower me. Because knowing or telling my truth is hard, I often feel small or false.
Surely, I am not so different from many who end up facing a wall in a zendo. I, too, like those others, turned to the study and practice of Buddhism because of suffering. Often overwhelmed with emotional pain and frequently immobilized by trauma, I turned to gentle dharma talks and embraced the idea of treating myself with compassion.
So with all the positives of meditation irrefutable, I sit. And having heard it said that the self which result from causes and conditions – such as parents who suffered and could not give love – is not reality, I long to discover my Buddha nature, to embrace compassion, sympathetic joy, loving kindness and equanimity. And until someone wiser than I am tells me: “Alison, you can only do it your way” I will say so to myself and perhaps begin to end my suffering. Then I can work harder to end all suffering, the real work of this personal struggle. And because I have Buddha Nature, there is no rush.