It’s sad when people have so many good things in their lives but are unable to be happy. Sometimes I compare the environment I’m in with that of people on the outside and remind myself that “it could be worse.” That is my mantra.
Sure I wish I was free. My living conditions could be more conducive for practicing the Dharma. I wish I could have a cushion to sit on (I meditate on a rolled up blanket on the floor). I wish that I could meet and share fellowship with other Buddhists—that would really be a blessing.
But “it could be worse.” Monastics in Tibet faced much harsher prison time than me and they fared much better mentally. I could be in an environment that is more dangerous. Being locked up by myself 23 hours a day also means that it is not as easy for me to get beat up. My mom and sometimes friends will send me a little money so I can buy things that I need—and some things that I don’t, i.e. cookies. I get mail regularly. I have shelter and good (well, okay) meals. So many people both here and out there have far less.
I wish I could tell people when they feel down or dissatisfied with life, “It could be worse.” We are really blessed and I feel even more so because I’m privileged to have a connection to all of you who are doing the Vajrasattva retreat.
After receiving this letter, the retreatants put a cushion for B. T. in the meditation hall with his picture on top. They wrote and told him he had the best seat in the hall, and he was delighted!