Other bunnies are probably not trying to make me suffer. I choose to react compassionately because they also suffer.
Since starting my journey with the Bunny Buddhism book early last week, I’ve read and reread the book several times. Some of the bunny wisdom is immediately accessible and applicable. Some requires deeper reflection for absorption. And then there are the quotes that vex me because I understand what they’re asking for and I know they are going to require some additional effort on my part. Today’s quote is one I have been working on for quite a while because I find opportunities everywhere. Every time another person’s actions negatively affect me, I have a choice: take it personally or realize that this is probably not about me and react compassionately.
This morning I was driving home after dropping the boys at school when a guy in an older model, full-size Chevy pick up came barreling up in my rear view mirror. I was doing the speed limit in the right lane of a three-lane, city street, and he was coming up fast on the car in the center lane. I knew he was going to try to squeeze in front of me to pass the two cars driving side by side in the other two lanes. I thought about speeding up and blocking him in, just because sometimes it’s fun to do that to obnoxious jerks even though it’s not very zen, but I decided that would not be the safest choice. So I let him squeeze between my car and the center car so I could be rid of him. I watched him weave in and out of traffic, cutting other people off left and right, for at least a half a mile up the road until he at last turned into a mall parking lot. The whole time, I tried to be a good bunny. I tried to be compassionate. I tried to envision that perhaps he was late for an important job interview or was running out to get his very pregnant, very cranky, donut-craving wife some breakfast. Then I decided that I should have compassion for him because he is clearly missing the big picture. He doesn’t understand that he’s not the center of the universe, and it’s a burden to live life that way, devoid of inner peace. Yes. I actually had that thought. I know, right? I felt it was pretty evolved of me too.
I could not get that guy out of my head all morning. I kept wondering what his burden was. What was it that made him that impatient, aggressive, and obviously not at peace? What was he suffering from? Finally after recreating the scene this morning in my analytical brain, in a not very bunny way, I decided he was merely suffering from being an asshole. That could be the true depth of his problem. Many people behave nastily because they are carrying a bigger burden than they can bear…the unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of a job, depression, loneliness, poverty. Then there are those people who simply are their own problem. Somehow I’m certain that guy in the truck is the same guy who would yell at the little old lady in the express lane at the grocery store because she was one item over the limit. He’s the same guy who would hog both arm rests on his airline seat. The same one who would repeatedly drop the F-bomb in front of a bunch of Cub Scouts at a hockey game. He’s that guy. And when I look at the quote again (and excuse me for getting technical here) it asked me only to react compassionately, which I did by letting him cut me off so he could win whatever Indy 500 race he was imagining in his little pea brain head. The quote didn’t say I had to like him, so there’s no moral obligation there, right?
Yes. I know. Not very zen. I told you I have been working on this quote for a while. Apparently I still have a way to go before I can say I nailed it. While I’m working on it, though, I suspect Buddha would suggest I find a quote about forgiveness and letting go. Apparently I can’t drive the road to inner peace aggressively…you know, the way that guy was driving this morning.
Friend, I really enjoyed your experience today. I had a similar situation happen to me with a coworker. Without going into detail I’ve had to keep reminding myself to let him go and not carry the negativity he showed today. I, too had to remind myself not to take it personal; that it has absolutely nothing to do with me at all!! Maybe your practice today was meant to instruct others in a broader sense. We may not know each other, or live anywhere close to one another but the universe did find a way to connect us. Thank you for taking the time to post your experience, it did help me today.
Thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice comment. I am finding that acknowledging that another’s behavior says more about them than it does about you is indeed a helpful practice. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Happy my post was relatable. 🙂
Zen, I’m going to practice that mantra today…it’s not about me, its not about me.mi have an issue at work with that. But secretly inside I do want it to be about me, for whatever reason.
It gives our ego power when we think it’s about us, but it gives our heart peace when we realize it is not. 🙂
If you want to get technical it didn’t say you had to hold the compassion 😉 …just have compassion. You did. You extended him some rope not knowing his situation. I’d say that’s a bit more evolved than a lot of people I know.
You’re right, Edie. At the very least, it occurred to me that he might need compassion. That’s further ahead than I was a couple years ago when I would have boxed him in and flashed him a toothy smile of belligerence while doing it. 😉
I can definitely relate. After a certain “transformation” that I knowingly accepted more than a year ago, I have been struggling, trying to be compassionate even when the other party/parties doesn’t/don’t seem to deserve it. Of course, I fail a lot of times, but I keep coming back up to try again. Besides, I’m no angel myself. Sometimes, I can be that person you’ll have a hard time giving compassion to…
Nice post and I’m happy to read you again 🙂