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 09, 2008

Practice In Action

It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon. I was headed home from a morning meeting, on my way to an eagerly awaited girly tea party.

The lights turned green. I waited for the car ahead of me to move. And that's when it hit me. Literally. From behind. My first ever accident in all my eight years of driving. In my one-month old car.

I pulled over and without thinking, told myself to just breathe. By the time I was face to face with the other guy, I was clear-headed enough to calmly ask what had happened.

He had a stricken look on his face as he explained how new brake pads failed to work. Following his hand gestures, I saw the terrfied young wife and two toddlers in his car. Whatever slivers of annoyance I had disappeared. I kept breathing.

We examined my car. Minor scratches danced across the bottom of the bumper, but unless you looked really hard, you would miss them all together.

We examined his car. The entire bonnet would have to be replaced. I felt a rush of sympathy.

We exchanged cards and I suggested that he replace his brake pads asap. He told me to get my car checked out and he would pay for any respraying work.

It was only when I got back into my car that I realised my hands were shaking. But what really surprised me were two things. The first was how I had instantly and subconsciously turned to my practice for help in dealing with the situation. That realisation warmed me deeply for it proved that my practice is indeed a part of my life.

The second surprise was how my practice had aided me. Pranayama isn't the strongest aspect of my practice and I have been telling myself for years that I really should take it more seriously. With all my years of practice, I felt it was 'shameful' that I only knew kapalabathi and anuloma viloma. Yet, it was the basic abdominal breathing that came to the rescue. And in that, I was reminded that (a) it is what you do with what you know that matters, and (b) never underestimate simplicity.

I always thought I would fall apart in such situations. It was nice to discover otherwise and even nicer to know why!


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