Tamu Hoyo Ngina Sensei
Something happened about a week ago. Rev. Koyo Sensei sent out an email from DailyOm. The title of the email was “Blaming Others.” So I clicked it to see what it was about. The subject of this DailyOm was listed under “burdensome feelings” and was written by Madison Taylor. The title in big bold letters was:
“We can not insist that someone take responsibility for their actions, only they can make the choice when they are ready.”
I have to be honest and say that this is something that I struggle with a great deal. That day that Rev. Koyo had forwarded that email to everyone, it was like a boom, it was right there, it was exactly what I needed to see and read in that moment and to sort of simmer down.
Because actually that day I was having a bit of a problem with someone in my life. You know when you love someone very deeply and you have known them for a very long time, there will always these issues. We all have our various issues that crop up, our lessons we need to learn, our habits or what have you and sometimes they affect other peoples’ lives. Sometimes they continue to affect our own lives yet we are not quite able to get over them. So it was an issue I was having with someone. It was like I was just feeling, I was wishing “wow I just wish this person would take responsibility for their actions”. And the more I wished that and the more I went deeper into that feeling, the more I began to suffer.
And by suffer I mean really be stressed out. Really be upset. Really in that time frame started to color, not necessarily the feelings that I had for that person but my interaction with that person. I would feel stressed and agitated every time I spoke to that person. And then this email came and it was like a Mac truck right in my face. And it really gave me something to think about. And of course, I then felt the need to really vent and get certain feelings out. The more I read the big bold title:
“We can not insist someone take responsibility for their actions, only they can make that choice when they are ready.”
I saw in that a lesson for myself as well. I have to take responsibility for MY actions and for my reactions to another person. As much as I might feel the suffering, feeling from wanting the other person to stand up and take responsibility and change their life, it wasn’t doing anything for that other person. It was helping me to suffer and it was helping my relationship with that other person to suffer.
Then I realized that wait a minute, the second part of that title, “Only they can make the choice when they are ready”... I had to realize that only I could make the choice for myself when I was ready. That I was no longer to allow the actions of this other person, whom I love very much, to affect me in such a way that I chose to react and put myself into a situation of suffering. Nor put the other person into a situation of suffering because I was unhappy with their actions or lack of responsibility for their actions. I had to step back a moment and accept responsibility for the thoughts that were in my head, for the need to continue to think that this person needed to change. Also, I started to realize that I had no right to insist that this person change or needed to form their life on a path that I thought was best for them. No matter how much I thought I loved them they have their own life and their own path to take. Even if they took a path that seemed unhelpful or unhealthy for them, I needed to make the choice. On that day, after much thought, after much back and forth and much venting, I had to make a choice to let it go. Once I began to do that, to make the choice to let go, it was sort of like my energy shifted.
I do the updates for Bright Dawn Center of Buddhism’s Facebook page. I always like to mix it up a little bit. I like to use quotes from Rev. Gyomay’s and Rev. Koyo’s writings, from various different Dharma teachers and various sects of Buddhism.
That day, after I resolved the letting go issue, I took down Rev. Koyo’s book “Bright Dawn: Discovering Your Everyday Spirituality.” The very page that I opened up to had this wonderful paragraph in it. The quote was so apropos that I decided to use. It was as follows:
“In our interpersonal interactions, some things are worth remembering while other things are best forgotten. Wisdom is knowing the difference. In a sense, wisdom is having a selective poor memory. In one of the Buddhist Sutras it is said:
‘Some people are like letters carved in rock; they are easily angered and they keep their angry thoughts for a long time. Some people are like letters written in sand; they give way to anger also, but the angry thoughts quickly pass away. Some people are like letters written on water; they let verbal abuse pass them by and no disturbing thoughts are retained.’”
Rev. Koyo’s book is one of my favorite Dharma books to read from time to time. AND as I read that and as the words popped out to me…”wisdom”…”rock”…”anger”… the images of letters written on sand came to me. How many of us have gone to the beach and written our name in the sand or hearts in the sand only to have the waves come wash it away almost immediately. Sometimes we might have a contest with the ocean to see how quickly we can write or rewrite in the sand before the waves can come wash away our words.
This quote from the Buddhist Sutra really stuck with me. You know, I want to blossom into wisdom. I realize wisdom does not come with age. I believe wisdom comes through our experiences and our ability to learn from those experiences and truly take to heart what we have learned. And that those experiences, those feelings we have about them and the knowledge we gain from them, become a part of our core. That is a part of how I think wisdom develops. I have been that person who has written letters in the rock. I have been the person whose letters are written in the sand. And every once in a while if I am really lucky, I have also been that person whose letters are written on the water.
When I read those lines it was like a message written to me and I know it’s a message for a lot of people. That sometimes there are people that you love or people that you interact with in life that may rub you the wrong way. And it’s like you just have to let those interactions go and you have to keep going.
That is the message and Dharma Glimpse that I wanted to share with you. And when I look back at:
We can not insist that someone take responsibility for their actions, only they can make the choice when they are ready.
I can just say to myself, “I have to take responsibility for my actions, my reactions as well as my interactions.” And I have to make that choice for myself (when I am ready) and so does everyone else around me (when they are ready).
Thank you very much for allowing me to share my Dharma Glimpse with you and giving you a little peek into my world and my monkey mind crazy thoughts!
Thank you, everyone, gassho, until next time.
Tamu Hoyo Sensei is part of the Lay Minister program with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Sangha. To learn more about Bright Dawn Way of Oneness please visit us here.