Bitter Medicine: a dose of humility

Only a day ago, I was preaching here about being awake and present, and it was by end of day that the dose of humility came to remind me that I can easily be the one that I criticize.

Yesterday evening I was visiting relatives.  They had guests, and it seems I walked into an already ongoing conversation “People from this town are like this, and people from that country are like that,” one of the guests was saying and with “this” and “that” I am not talking about the light hearted teasing that goes on usually about dwellers of a city being stingy or a bit on the less smart side, but it was quite a bit more serious than that.  It was pure prejiduce.

After I grasped the situation, and took a breath, the “me” inside me could not help but intervene: “It is foolish and ignorant to stereotype a whole country because of a couple of bad (or good) apples” I said.

They changed the subject, but I have to admit I was still a bit bitter.  It was not enough for me that for all practical purposes, I called my host’s guests ignorants, I wanted more; vengeance.  I know myself when I become thirsty for more verbal jousting, and I decided my little me has had enough for the night and I need to exucse myself quietly.  I did.

This is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning of my dose of humility.  For the rest of the evening I dwelled and dwelled on the scenario that unfolded.  What I should have said, and how dare he say this, and so on and so on.

Something had to be done, The train of thought is getting noisy in my mind and I wanted peace.  I went to prayer.  It felt great, as long as I was in prayer and for probably ten minutes after, then I let the wreckless train of thought in again.  “That’s it, time for some meditation.” What a beautiful idea.  Let us meditate.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and went in.  It felt good.  Helas! a few minutes after being done, the train is back.

Home came the family, “what went wrong, why did you leave?” of course I had to explain, and everyone had an opinion on what I should have done, and whether what I did was appropriate or not, etc, etc.  Welcome back the train of thought, but now I pulled more people into my drama.  My ego is having a ball by now.

Before going to sleep, I did a trick of counting five blessings I have  before I go to bed.  It felt good, soothed my mind, and I went to sleep.

Morning, up early bright and shine, and give my mind five minutes and it is going “so, what was I thinking about last night? oh, oh i remember” and the train again.  I have not had breakfast yet.

This is not the story either.  Here is the real trick the mind plays.  I read that some tibetian monks call it the “double dukha” I could be wrong on the spelling.  Double dukha is when you are angry because you are angry.  So there was me saying “tsk tsk Ammar, you of all people, how could you let yourself get taken by anger and negative thoughts.  you of all the people.” Man! this is worse than the reckless train from yesterday!

Then I decided to try acceptance.  I decided to accept that I am not perfect, and that imperfection is what makes me human and who I am.  It did not work immediately, but after a couple of iterations along with getting myself busy with more productive errands and tasks in and outside the house, I felt OK afterwards.

I figured usually after a day of this, it becomes old news.  So when my mind says: “so, buddy, why didnt you say…” I start yawning and stop listening as it is not engaging anymore.  By then usually the drama is over.  It took me about 18 hours to finish this drama.

Now my mind is saying “you should have tried this technique, it would have worked better” and I am saying,” yeah whatever, I need to go to sleep.”  How about some blessings counting? who’s with me?

Good night 🙂

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