Thursday, August 20, 2015

Peace of Mind, by Gabriel from the United States

Shang Rinpoche student
Gabriel Lamm, USA
When I first started going to Rinpoche's classes I was leery of what was being “sold.” I had been religious throughout high school and college and wasn’t looking for another religious replacement. I felt Buddhism was for monks and some lofty, hippy thing for foreign wanna-bes. I never thought it would have practical application in my day-to-day existence.

Over time, listening to Rinpoche speak and answer tough questions about everyday problems his students posed, I began to understand that Rinpoche wasn’t giving some holier-than-thou religious responses. He gave practical advice. He answered in ways that everyone could use to start to practice. And that’s it. Most everything has to do with our own mind, which is not easily changed. It’s a practice. Something you have to constantly do to get better at. Not a simple task.

So I started trying some of the things Rinpoche suggested on my own – simple stuff – like watching my mind. If I had a thought or emotion I would stop and try to figure out where it was coming from. If I was mad or sad or even happy – where was that coming from? I had always thought it was something outside myself: the guy that cuts me off on the road makes me angry, the weather makes me blue. However, the more and more I actually watched where the thoughts came from, and was honest with myself, I realized everything came from me. My ego or jealousy or stubbornness - something within me was the cause of all the crazy thoughts and emotions.

Realizing this was sort of big. Once I did, I could then begin to “control” them. I’m no enlightened being, I struggle every day, but now if I get moody or down I can pause and try to figure out the real reason behind it. This has helped me a great deal, not only in my everyday life but with relationships too.

Last fall I was diagnosed with stage 4 T-cell Lymphoma. I had many other health problems including a perforated ulcer, and nearly died. I’ve always believed in karma but through Rinpoche's teachings I have never questioned: Why me? From what I’ve learned from Rinpoche, karma is something we have to go through – eventually. We cannot avoid it. This has saved me from a lot of self-pity that I could have had.

Overall, I feel that my time spent learning with Rinpoche has helped give me more tools to have peace of mind. It has shown me another path that I can walk down to try to smooth out the rough patches that life gives me.

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