14 Nov 2009 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 2 Comments.
Friends and relatives often comment on how preternaturally calm I am and seem to have become. This was not always so. I was an overactive and swift-reacting three sports jock growing up in the NY suburbs in the fifties and sixties. This acquired equanimity and centeredness I attribute to decades of meditation practice and the inner gravitas stemming from the sacred art and practice of Presencing. It helps keep my ship upright, steady, balanced, and on course even amidst stormy waters. Right yourself, and your whole world comes aright.
Once in the early ninetie, I was getting a ride in France with my old Dharma friend Pema Yeshe, a middle-aged goddess originally from Brookline, Massachusetts — a Radcliffe grad with a country house in the Buddhist neighborhood of the Dordogne Valley in southern France. PY was a dreadful and fearful driver, as everyone knew; but being totally, and perhaps foolishly, equanimous concerning life and death, I’d unthinkingly and perhaps foolishly put my life in her hands and was riding shotgun in her old car to the market at the picturesque town of Sarlat (site of many a movie set).
As we were tooling through the cave-rich, river-winding, country road on the way there, twisting and turning, without guard rails or shoulders, with her hands gripped on the steering wheel and without turning her rigidly held head even a smidgin’ towards me, she squawks in an unusually tightly constricted high voice: “How can you be so calm? You’re making me nervous!”
Isn’t this one of life’s amusing and contradictory realities? That things about others bother us even when they are the opposite of what you’d normally think would bother us, because we are so vulnerable to every whim and wind of inner continuing and reactivity to outer vacillations and the vagaries of everyday life experience. One could just as welll draft upon the happiness and well being (or calm centeredness and serenity) of another and benefit from the calm of someone near us in a tight situation, couldn’t we?