The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Build Windmills

Yesterday, I had lunch with a teacher-in-training. She had just begun the program and was brimming with excitement. Eyes sparkling with happiness. Cheeks flushed with pleasure. When she signed up for the program, it was purely out of passion. Not to eke a living out of teaching people to snuggle their foot behind their head. Then she fell even deeper in love with yoga and believes her new path will lead her into a teacher’s role. And therein lay her anxiety.

She was changing, she said. She didn’t know how or why but she felt different. And she felt scared. What effects were the chanting and meditations having on her mind and personality? How were the asanas changing the way she saw the world? How could she control the changes, choose which ones she wanted and discard those she didn’t? What if she didn’t like her new self? Or was it just her imagination?

So here’s what I told her.

There was no way she would go through this course without changing. It’s impossible. Change is inevitable when you walk a different path and that is exactly what she is doing. And she had no reason to be afraid of these changes because as long as she’s travelling a path of light, the changes will also be of light. Good, positive changes that will bring her closer to her dharma or destiny. I suggested she relax and observe the changes, instead of analysing and judging them and herself. Remain detached. Then she can focus on what is happening right now instead of worrying what could happen a year from now.

When I was in the ashram, I panicked a certain point because I thought I was being converted into a full-fledged vegetarian. That was all the encouragement my imagination needed to begin a running commentary on how I would be a social outcast and how Christmas dinner would be so difficult and how I wouldn’t get invited to anyone’s home for a meal and so forth. When I finally forced myself to take a deep breath and step backwards, I saw my fears for what it really was. Just a fear. I was vegetarian for a few months after returning from India and I still have all my friends.

My two-cents worth probably made some sense, because by the time we wiped the last of the sandwich crumbs off our lips, she was smiling with relief.

For those of you who are about to embark on a teachers training course or who are already in the midst of it, I hope this brings comfort to you too.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

Build a windmill, my friend.


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