Sharing by Eileen Dolan

A few years back, I fractured a bone because I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. Roots had grown under the sidewalk raising up one edge higher than the other. Instead of watching where I was going, I was talking and looking at the houses around me. When I fell it frightened everyone because it was such a hard fall. This habit of mine of not paying attention to the important information around me has led to many accidents physically, mentally or spiritually. throughout my life. The “accidents” may be small, like forgetting to express gratitude or very large, like being rude or inconsiderate. Even now, I still use the excuse of just being an absent-minded person. The Buddha’s definition of absent mindedness is called Negligence.

The opposite of negligence is vigilance.  Vigilance is making good use of all of one’s senses, the physical ones, the mental ones and the spiritual ones, to be aware of what is going on outside one’s body and inside one’s mind. The habits of negligence become so ingrained; it feels like that is who I am. But I have had the good fortune of having spiritual friends who have walked beside me to try to show me how to keep my mind alert, to try to break me of my habits of absent mindedness, and to try to prevent me from hurting myself and others around me.

The problem is that I can get things confused. Instead of seeing the one guiding me as my friend, I rebel, and treat them as the enemy. Why? Because my pride gets hurt when I see how often I stumble. Instead of seeing these unskillful habits as the real enemy which is stripping away my ability to reach my goal, I push away those who are waking me up, I come up with excuses for my behavior and continue making the same mistakes.

There is only so much a friend can do to help. If I don’t open my eyes, all the help in the world will never benefit me. My friends can only watch as I make the choice to keep marching blindly forward creating havoc, or pick up the magnifying glass of mindfulness, to see the obstacles and opportunities around me.

I have been stuck for so long, that I have forgotten that there is a way to break free. Through the practice of meditation, focusing on the breath, and allowing the compassion energy from the Buddhas to infuse my mind, body and spirit, the compassion can begin to gently soften my pride, so that the warmth shines through.  For pride really is just the separation of myself from who I really am, a beloved child of compassion. By pulling my mind in with the meditation practice, I can allow this energy to wake me up from the inside out breaking down all separations.

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