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Making the teachings personal

By D. M.

Fingers coming through a white wall
If I reacted with anger this time, I will meet that anger again.

It’s only been this last year that I have figured out how to make these teachings personal. Now instead of just repeating some words, taking refuge is a whole new experience. I try to find an incident that has happened within the last 24 hours—which is not hard to do here—and relate how I could react according to the Dharma and my own future buddhahood.

My refuge today developed from my determination not to react with anger to this cop who made me mad. If I reacted with anger this time, I will meet that anger again. Then I took refuge in the fact that when I’m enlightened, this kind of angry reaction will not even occur to me. There was a sigh of relief, just barely noticeable at this point. This makes every day fresh and alive.

A few days ago, this guy, let’s call him Bob, whom I do not like at all, came up to my locker top and started looking through MY things (This is one of my ego triggers). He sees the Mandala magazine and asks to look at it. (I don’t like him and now I’m angry because he wants MY mag). I paused and then said, “Sure, go ahead.” Later I proceeded to review the whole situation, especially my motivation. Did I let him have it because it was the right thing to do? Well, no. Or so I could get some good merit? Well, no. Was it because I feared negative consequences? Yup, that was it. The really cool thing was not so much the motivation, it’s that I actually took the time to figure out why I acted as I did. Ok, so that motivation was the lowest one, but now I’m discovering the way to check on my actions. I’m happy with that new insight.

Incarcerated people

Many incarcerated people from all over the United States correspond with Venerable Thubten Chodron and monastics from Sravasti Abbey. They offer great insights into how they are applying the Dharma and striving to be of benefit to themselves and others in even the most difficult of situations.

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