I woke today to a view of widespread frost on the grass and a thin layer of ice on the car windshield. Since I was moving slowly as I readied myself for our AM T'ai Chi Chih class, it helped me to visualize the class standing in a circle on the hardwood floors of our practice room with sunshine streaming through the windows and en-light-ening us.
And, sure enough, that's what happened. For me, it was a gloriously uplifting and energizing practice followed by a good discussion about how to cultivate positive emotions (Chapter 10) per our text, Buddha's Brain. The authors included an intriguing parable from Taoist teacher, Chuang Tzu, to illustrate how easy it is for us to attribute intentions to other people without even knowing what motivates their behaviors. I reprint the story below (Buddha's Brain, pp. 164-165):
Imagine that you are relaxing in a canoe on a river, when suddenly there is a hard thump against the side of it, dumping you into the water. You come up sputtering, and see that two teenagers with snorkels have snuck up and tipped you over. How do you feel?How would you feel if caught in either of these two scenarios? The authors mention that, for many, the second scenario doesn't feel as bad as the first. They suggest a different approach to dealing with hurt, angry feelings:
Next imagine that everything is the same--the canoe, the sudden dumping into the river--except this time when you come up sputtering, you see that a huge submerged log has drifted downstream and smacked into your canoe. Now how do you feel?
Truly, many people are like logs: it's wise to get out of their way if you can--or reduce the impact--but they're not aiming at you.So simple and, yes, so true. I believe T'ai Chi Chih practice helps me to venture into a place of unity and oneness where, at least temporarily, ego is put aside. During my practices it's easier for me to not take things personally but, rather, to respond to others from a place of generosity and good will. I'm still learning and practicing how to bring that openness and compassion into other areas of my life....