The Path To Bodhichitta

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

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Giving & Receiving

Last week, I had late night coffee with a dear friend. Our paths collided only in April this year, but our bond grew at startling speed. PS loves to talk and is a great entertainer, but this time, I took the reins of the conversation with a disturbing issue at work.

The abridged version is that one among us is struggling and we're all at our wits end as to how to haul him on board. PS thoughtfully swirled his skinny latte around before saying;

"Let's say I'm in love with you and you don't feel the same. But to win you over, I buy you a diamond ring, a house, a car and so forth. Would you accept the gifts?"

"Of course not!"

He leaned forward. "Why?"

"Because those gifts come with a certain obligation and expectation and if I know I can't reciprocate, then I shouldn't accept them."

"And would I be a fool for continuing to give you gifts?"

I hesitated. "I guess..."

He leaned closer, looked me straight in the eye and said, "So why then do you keep giving this person so much when he is obviously not reciprocating?"

We're a team, I protested. We should look out for each other.

"You care too much," PS said with his usual directness.

Of course I do. We're a team!

"No, you care TOO MUCH! You're taking responsibility for his success, which is not your job or your business. You're giving him all these gifts to succeed and he doesn't want to do what you're asking of him. So why do you keep giving them? Why do you keep trying to force your expectations on him when he is clearly showing you that he doesn't not want to live up to them?"

Lightbulb moment. I remained silent for a long while. PS was right. I care too much - about the result instead of the action. In karma yoga, we're meant to focus only on doing the right thing and not be attached to the result. After all, karma yoga is about voluntary actions and I am voluntarily dishing out all that help. It's difficult, though, to not expect the fruits of your labour. Then again, perhaps different fruits are flowering instead of the ones I had in mind.

So I will take a step back. Allow him to carve his own path and not feel frustrated when he makes a 'wrong' move that could have been avoided, had he accepted my help. And I will remember that life, like yoga, is easier without the burden of expectations.


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