Saturday, February 04, 2006

Perfect Irritability

At the gym today I was happy to be tooling along on an elliptical trainer when a gray haired woman about my age and size came by chatting up a number of folks. She was fully clothed including a nice new looking leather jacket. She knew the woman on the machine next to me, also about my age and size wearing too short shorts with an unattractive roll of flab pushed up by the elasticity of her clothing. She was working hard, driven by the furies, it seemed.

Unlike pretty much everyone around me I was not in an iPod daze or listening to audio on the array of LCD TVs above our heads. I was staring at the cover of the Fall 2005 issue of Buddhadharma and trying to remain in the present moment.

They started talking. The gray haired woman spoke loudly so she could be heard over the machines and the hip-hop sound track the gym plays midday on the weekends. I could hear clearly every word they were saying.

The conversation, some lightweight gossip about mutual friends and some basic networking was starting to drive me loopy. I was getting grumpy, mad, annoyed and then they started talking about how crude Americans are and then began to complain about how bad our table manners have become. (These were both American women, inspired by a comment of a European friend.)

I was thinking, rude, you want to talk about rude, your conversation is rude!!!, while trying to make eye contact with Ms. Gray Hair. She was having none of it even though I was looking at them both with a not exactly open and friendly stare.

I was also thinking that I shouldn’t be thinking these things. I should either be listening to music of my choice like everyone else or thinking how nice it is that these friends get to see each other and share their opinions and then my eyes drifted to a phrase in the magazine I had restlessly opened in front of me. In an article in the Forum section on the Lojong Mind Training Practices I spied… “On the ultimate level, it is all simply a matter of being present with the perfection that is already there.

I realized that I didn’t have to stop being irritable. The irritability was perfect. It was what was. What a relief!

I also like the photos in the article, which are regular signs that have been doctored to show a few mind training slogans.

Some resources mentioned in the forum are The Tonglen and Mind Training Site, which has lots of cool stuff including a place where one can have a daily proverb sent to a mobile device by text messaging…

… “Excuse me, that is my slogan calling.”

Unfettered Mind, which has beautiful images and mind training maps for those who like to go with the flow (as in flow charts and the more scholarly The Berzin Archives, which has an abundance of good information to take one’s mind off any perfectly annoying people you might run across today.


Blogger Dale said...

It's so easy to decide that what's wrong is that you're not being "buddhist enough" -- I think it's rare and wonderful to be able to back up another step and accept your own irritation as just one of the things that's present. (And likewise your dissatisfaction with not being able to accept your own irritation, and your irritation at that dissatisfaction, and so on, and on, ad absurdum :->)

11:03 AM  

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