In this passage Buddha is speaking to his disciple Assaji:
"When you're obsessed with hatred for someone, it's inevitable that you will return one day as his disciple."
“Master, I just hope he's better when he comes back,” Assaji said doubtfully.
“He will be arrogant and proud,” said Buddha, “But it won't matter. The fire of passion burns out eventually. Then you dig though the ashes and discover a gem. You pick it up, you look at it with disbelief. The gem was inside you all the time. It is yours to keep forever. It is buddha.”
I have been struggling this week with hatred so this passage really spoke to me. Earlier today I did a meditation in which I spent time inside my heart feeling the hatred and exploring its origins. As I did I felt anger, I felt sadness, I felt hopelessness, and I felt despair. I thought it would never end, but I kept at it, lying there, feeling all of it.
Pictures came to me as I meditated on my feelings, past lives filled with hopelessness and despair. Hunger, poverty, starvation, loneliness.
In one of these lifetimes I was a baby, left in the gutter to die, hungry and alone. Abandoned, forgotten, unloved. The feelings rose as I watched this scene unfold. There was no way out. I was trapped in this baby body and I could not help myself. I could do nothing but lie there and starve to death. More anger, more despair, more tears.
Eventually the feelings began to dissipate, replaced by numbness.
I kept my attention in my heart, still feeling like there was no solution, no way out, having made a strange peace with this.
Suddenly I felt someone pick me up. A soft blanket enveloped me in a warm embrace. I was being fed. All was well.
I didn't know what had happened. Somehow I had called and someone had answered. I was no longer alone.
I can't say for sure that this was an experience of my inner buddha, but when I opened the book after meditating, this was the first passage that I saw and it spoke something to me about this experience.
Feeling someone pick me up and hold me, love me, feed me, when I had no hope felt like finding a gem. Realizing I could summon this kind of love and care even in the midst of complete despair and hopelessness felt like finding a gem. I hope it is mine to keep forever.
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Apologies if this was not the post you were expecting this week. It was not the post I was expecting either. I have been working on a post about "mitigated" relationships (as teased in last week's post), but it is just not coming together. I will keep at it and hope to post it at a future date. In the meantime, I trust that this is exactly what was needed today.