Saturday, October 11, 2014

A New Outlook On Life, by Rich Patha

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche 's Teacher
Dorje Lingpa
Teacher of Shang Rinpoche.
The idea of what is polite, or what behavior does and does not pass for normal, can be quite different from country to country.

Moving to Taipei several years ago was actually fairly easy. After some time though, perhaps because I was in culture shock and didn’t even know it, the little things that are different really started to stand out. It’s like a slowly building pressure that you only notice once it’s uncomfortable, like driving up into the mountains and suddenly realizing you need to pop your ears. Moving through public space has a whole different set of rules in Taipei than it does in the west. What is perfectly acceptable here would make you extremely unpopular back home on a busy street, and after a while, it gets to you. Just one example: a person suddenly stepping directly in front of you so you must stop or step on them.

Thanks to concepts instilled in classes with Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche and his surprising answers to questions, I have completely different ways to deal with these and other kinds of pressure.

At the heart of my teacher’s message to his students, Rinpoche continuously talks about the idea of compassion for all beings. By applying the concept of compassion, I am continually developing the skill to think of everyone as family rather than strangers. How could one be upset with their mother or treat an uncle rudely?

Rinpoche also stresses the need to increase one’s ability to handle stress, both big and small, in a more equitable way. I have asked myself many times over the years: if a social behavior is acceptable here, why are many foreigners unable to get over it while living abroad? The answer is actually quite obvious: it’s all in how we see things, deciding whether they are good or bad or perhaps neither.

Such a simple answer that we’ve all heard before, and precisely because we’ve heard it before, it can easily be overlooked as not all that important, but it is. Hearing something, contemplating and understanding it, and applying it are three stages that lead up to the hardest part, which is maintaining it.

Thanks to the group I study with, and the circumstances we study under, we repeatedly remind each other, through our actions as well as words, that we have to keep our practice in mind as much as possible. Unlike in our careers or with our families, where conflicts may fester for ages or never be solved, disagreements among Rinpoche’s students are dealt with as soon as they happen, or at the latest, before the day is done. Whether through talking, arguing or simply accepting the situation and not taking it personally, in the end a lot is learned about yourself and those around you, and you finally get a sense for what harmony among the chaos may look like.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed reading this, super insightful. Thanks Rich Patha!