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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Meditation on Forgetting

 

HH Dalai Lama celebrated his 78th birthday  last Saturday, 6th July… and I forgot!

 

 

 

A Confession

I must confess that I have forgotten  to write an entry on the occasion of HH Dalai Lama which I started doing when I started this site. I have already written extensively about how indebted I am to HH 14th Dalai Lama for opening my mind to a fresh understanding of life and reality. I find that I feel a bit angry and rather ashamed of having forgotten the man who helped e to embark on the journey where I can better understand who I am and my place in this world.

 

In a way, this journey of self-discovery which I have been writing about since 2011 began as a child. But then, my curiosity to know about HH Dalai Lama and to understand Buddhism didn’t take me far. Even my brief exploration of world religions that I carried out as I was writing my book Cosmos also didn’t help me that much as I only read sources which tended to hold that Buddhism was a nihilistic tradition.
I find that the past remains an important part of who we are. It’s true that it’s not good to dwell on the past but it would be wrong that we completely forget it. For the past, whether we like it or not, has affected and affects who we are today.

 

Yes, I forgot that on the 6th JUly of 1935, a young boy called Tenzin Gyatso would be declared to be the re-incarnation of his predecessor Thubten Gyatso. Much has been written, of course, on the Dalai Lama’s early days but I feel That I have been affected but the way he speaks and expresses his thoughts with a rare sincerity and with a genuine interest in the welfare of all humankind and all sentient beings. Yet, as he admits himself, he is just a man like any other and he doesn’t want people to regard him as a god-figure. In particular, there are three things that have struck me as he talks about Buddhism. Precepts that, you might have noticed, I constantly refer to when writing here and which I use as guides in other writing that is not related to Buddhism as such.

 

My Guiding Principles

These principles, simply put are:

Dependent arising. The teaching that who we are is the product of countless causes and conditions that have made our life possible.

 

co-dependence e. The reality that who we are and what we have depends on other factors that are beyond our control. These range from the physical world - material objects, nature, living things and weather conditions; to the relations we have with other people.

 

Impermanence. The fact that nothing lasts forever. Everything in the universe is changing, including the universe itself. And, all all of this will one time end.

The Impermanence of Forgetting

 

In this sense, we can see forgetting as the manifestation of the impermanence of memory. Yet, we may forget other things in life that are as important as memory is to remember who we are. I feel that, due to strong emotions, that arose from a dark place within. As a result, I started forgetting what was important in my life. I was forgetting the values I believed in. Perhaps I was under the illusion that I was better than others or that I had a rightful claim to be arrogant because I felt that I was in the right and that all I said can't and shouldn't be contradicted because it was absolute - when, in fact, right as it may have been, it was relative. Yes, I may have been in the right at times but my approach was also wrong.

It is often the case that because we feel we have found our truth, we forget that we remain always subjective in our judgments and fail to consider how our words and actions might affect other people.

I am not saying that we do wrong if we make our point or feel that we must take action. Yet, even if we are right and correct, the way we assert our convictions can easily undermine their importance. It’s a choice whether to pursue the path of violence or the path of non-violence. The former may appear to be stronger and the more effective. Yet, while the path of violence may get more immediate results, it only reacts to the effect of the real cause of our affliction and may also obscure the real causes of the affliction.

 

Healing the Past: To Forgive, Not Forget…

I am sorry that I forgot to remember that on July 6, 1935, Tenzin Gyatso was born. But, I feel greater sorrow that while my writing has been largely unaffected by past afflictions, I cano’t say the same about some words and actions that I have carried out in an attempt to reclaim what I felt was unfairly taken away from me.

 

But, in doing so, I became a slave to this past and never really freed myself.

The only way we have to heal the past is to forgive all the injustice perpetrated against us as we can’t change the past. Yet, while we should not forget our past as it has shaped who we are, we should strive to forgiveness ensures that we don’t remain slaves to our past and be willing to be more open to trusting others guided by the wisdom of our past injustices.

 

We should strive to cultivate our compassion as it is the only guarantee of our own happiness and that of others.
In HH the 14th Dalai Lama’s own words:

 

“If you want to be happy… practice compassion…

 

If you want others to be happy… practice compassion…”

 

I wish belated wishes to HH Dalai Lama.

 

Thank you very very much!

 

Older Entries

2011: Celebrating HH the 14th Dalai Lama's 76th Birthday
2012: Tomorrow ... It's the 6th July? So, It's HH 14th Dalai Lama's 77th birthday!!!

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