During the peaceful living and dying retreat, I had a few insights. On the second to last meditation, I finally accepted that I will age and I will die, but I have not accepted that I can die at any moment yet. During the retreat, a lot came up and I realized how much I desired to be with people. It was a silent retreat and I saw how badly I wanted to connect with others. I wanted to give them love and affection, but I wanted something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Did I want to be loved by them? Liked by them? I realized how much impermanence gave me anxiety. I noticed how difficult it was for me to let go of a newly formed friend. I noticed how uncomfortable I was with just seeing someone in passing an not making a connection. I noticed that every time I parted from someone it felt like my friend had just died. I wanted them to stay with me forever, but they need to leave and go their way. They probably want to shit alone. I saw how I wanted all of my relationships to be permanent and had a hard time admitting their true nature wasn’t such. I noticed that I was operating under the assumption that if I could get them to love me than they would stay. I realized it is impossible for them to stay. What comes together must come apart. I understood that viewing my friends as separate from me was the reason why I was experiencing the birth and death of relationships, but I couldn’t see how we couldn’t be separate when physically we weren’t near each other.
We did an equanimity meditation where we visualized a friend, a stranger, and an enemy and saw them all as being equal because all of them wanted happiness and none of them wanted suffering. I visualized on the very left my grandma, in the middle my stranger classmate, and on the right my enemy ex-coworker. I was trying to equalize these three, but it was just impossible. There was no way my old coworker could ever be my grandmother. As I did the meditation, for some reason my mind started doing its own thing. I spontaneously started visualizing gold light coming from my grandma to my heart and then to my old coworker. I started feeling love towards my old coworker. I stopped and questioned why that was happening and realized grandma wasn’t dead. Grandma spent my whole life teaching me to love my enemies and now I was doing it even though she no longer existed as my grandmother. I realized that I could never be without my grandma because now she was a part of me. She was in my past, she is in my present, and will continue into my future. I started crying because it was so beautiful. I realized all of my relationships with people existed this way—even the short ones.
I still felt a longing for something in relationship to people. I wasn’t able to figure it out. I asked the teacher for a private meeting and he graciously accepted. I didn’t have a plan and ended up just blurting out whatever popped up. I started out by saying that I desired to be affectionate with people, but I also desired something else but I didn’t know what. I said I think I might desire to see that I have actually helped people that I had the deep concern that I am not good enough as I am. I started getting really emotional and started tearing up. He asked me why I wasn’t enough and I explained to him that in the past I had practiced taking refuge in Buddha nature when I saw someone needed help. The result wasn’t a thought as to how to help them or a feeling of sadness and empathy, but simply an action. The action was spontaneous and appeared illogical. Why did I do that? How could that help them? However, the results were undeniable. I did this while at work and not only did I take refuge in my Buddha nature, but I saw them as having Buddha nature as well. Seeing them as Buddha made it impossible for them to disturb my mind and easier to rest in my own nature. The result was that not only were my coworkers kinder to me, but they started being kinder to each other. It was a miracle! The work environment was dog eat dog. When something went wrong, the boss said who do I fire. Without much research, he would fire people on the spot. He fired hard working people that had been working for him for a long time and weren’t the cause of the problem. The result of this environment was employees throwing each other to the wolves. Within one day of taking refuge in my Buddha nature, my co-workers stopped throwing each other to the wolves and started being gentle with each other—the boss as well. There was nothing I could point to explain how this happened. To my mind this appears illogical.
I can give an example. I had a co-worker that was very angry with a customer. I felt disturbed by her mind being disturbed and turned inward and trusted my clear knowing mind. I took one step away from her and instantly she went from anger to crying and confessing to me her internal struggles. It looked like by giving her physical space it created more space in her mind. This was the first time I ever saw her flip from anger to being vulnerable.
I told the teacher(not in detail) about this and said while tearing up that I wasn’t able to sustain this. Because I couldn’t sustain this, I could help people. His face was blank. He said, “It seems like you have a strong propensity towards emptiness.” I was shocked. How did he know? He told me I needed to start doing the preliminary practices like prostrations to purify the negative karma that kept bringing up self and preventing me from realizing emptiness. I was double shocked as he was not the first person to tell me to do purification practices. I said to him, “But, shouldn’t I practice Bodhichitta first?” and He said’ “Didn’t you just say you want to help others, but self is in the way?” I felt so silly I wanted to laugh at myself. I had been looking for Bodhichitta outside of myself this entire time. I was looking for Bodhichitta in books and considering retreats to take. The whole time I was searching I never stopped to notice that my motivation to find Bodhichitta was Bodhichitta itself.