I obey new rules
Whose sense rest in their nonsense
Sorely, I miss you
I have this on-and-off relationship with Buddhism, even as the most cursory review here demonstrates a clear and consistent theme of its tenets in my thoughts, life, etc. I often ponder “how I can help” and most times, the answer boils down to, “you cannot, at least not directly”; it gets to be tricksy, hobbitses, because it seems the direct compulsion “to help” is actually fed (most often) by misplaced ego or pride (that *I* can *do* something which *you* cannot, regardless the “reasoning” that brought this silly conclusion).
Once upon a time, that last sentence was hard to say but lately, it’s not only easy, but most often (as now) accompanied by wistful laughter.
I think that being helpful truly boils down to merely not being harmful. That sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? But is it, really? It’s so easy to justify “being helpful”; insidiously so and often utterly misplaced and unhelpful. Does it not make more sense to “flip that perspective” and instead, insist on not being harmful? Harder, yes, but it seems ultimately more helpful for all concerned.
I have some friends who call that a “cop out”; implying that not doing something means tacit support or that placing “do no harm” above “help others” is somehow backwards. Increasingly, I find that feels and seems more like the strident insistence upon ego and self-cherishing; “Hey, look at what *I* can do… for you… for them… for the world.” (See what I mean?)
So yes, I admit, this perspective and approach is likely very simplistic; but it rings true in a way very little does for/to me. So, for now, I’m working on the premise that it’s true. I find that this keeps me from becoming hard, sharp, angry, and pushy in relation to others… a Good Thing.
It is likely worth mention that I am hardly consistent in this practice; human that I am, I have moments where all this slides off the edge of my mind and the monkey within is right back to meddling at/with others as if it (a) has any legitimacy to do so, (b) can possibly do more or better for anyone other than me. But I think awareness and active effort at reminding myself of it all works better than anything I’ve yet found to keep that little monster firmly directed to MY life and concerns (mostly).
All of this is bubbling around today because I encountered something that really touched me and that I wish more than anything I could respond directly to… but doing so would be to let that little monkey loose and, well, I know that doesn’t help anything or anyone, ever.
Sometimes, I think the heaviest thing of all is knowing that I cannot bring good things to some of those for whom I care. There are many to whom I can, but it always seems it is the ones I cannot that unsettle and sadden me.
Whether it’s an odd twist of ego (that thinks it should be able to do so) or merely a genuine wish for skillfulness that is not present, the result is the same — imponderably impossible. I suppose even trying to noodle it to understand it is a waste of time and energy. And yet… here I sit, little grabby mind and mental monkey hands all over it. (chuckle)
The tug of the ancient ache is strong in this moment; but I have been working on myself and I find I am stronger as well. “I pass the test; I shall diminish and remain as I am.” (A horrible paraphrasing, but oddly fitting and besides, it’s not like I can be other than as I am, now is it?)