Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sylvia Boorstein is a meditation teacher whom I admire very much. Today I just happened to stumble upon the transcript of a commencement address she gave at Stanford University last year. In it she speaks of three wisdoms. It's the third I want to share with you here:
And the third thing, again, is the recognition that no one does anything alone, that is, all causes and conditions. It relieves me personally of worrying too much about praise or blame. If I do something good, I think to myself, well, great, this is my teacher's and my parents' and my whole life speaking through me at this moment and acting through me, and I am very, very grateful for all of my teachers and all the people that make me who I am today, and I figure I share the merit with them. They're part of it. And when I don't do so well, when I don't do as well as I wish, I can also distribute the dismay and say this is not my fault. All of my committee did not show up in exactly the right proportions today, but they will another time, so thank you, committee, and we carry on. I don't have to carry the whole burden myself. I'm part of the committee but I'm not the whole committee. That's a great piece of awareness. That's what's supposed to happen from paying attention.
What she's talking about is connectedness, isn't she? You know, I observe such terrible suffering when people get caught up in blaming themselves. There is equal suffering, interestingly enough, in the attachment to self-praise because we can't triumph all the time, can we? Wouldn't it be more skillful to realize that it's not all about the individual? My successes aren't all about me and neither are my failures. John Donne said it best: "No man is an island, entire of itself..." We are all profoundly connected.

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