Observe merit and appreciate kindness (觀功念恩) is one thing I learned from the LamRim class (Tibetan: “stages of the path”.)
I made my first trip back to Taiwan in 2002 — 29 years after I came to America. Before I went, I contacted two high school friends, Kay and Judy. To my surprise, even though we hadn’t communicated for so many years, we had no problem to reconnect. After that first trip, I went back almost every year. Every time I was there, three of us would take a 2 or 3-day trip together.
Kay is a successful business woman, who started her own company many years ago. She has a big, soft heart, but she often acts and talks like an impatient boss. Although I had never owed a company, I had spent many years working for corporations, and I am somewhat Americanized. 😉 So even though I have no problem following someone’s lead, I do know my right and I’m not afraid of speaking up. Judy has been a housewife for all these years. She gets angry when being pushed, but no matter how angry she is, she keeps her anger deep inside.
One night, during an election season, we went to a park. Two guys stood in front of the gate passing political fliers. Walking in front of me, Kay accepted a flier and thanked the guy. I quickly stepped to the side to avoid getting one. Kay stopped and turned to me. “You should take a flier! Do you know those guys can’t go home until all the fliers are gone? If everyone is like you, they will have to stand there until midnight!”
I was surprised at her loud voice. Calmly, I said, “I don’t have right to vote. Why do I want to take a flier?”
Kay started lecturing me, telling me that it didn’t matter if I could vote or not, I should have some sympathies toward those workers.
Judy tried to distract us, but Kay wouldn’t stop. Finally, I raised my voice, too. I said, “If I take a flier, I am wasting their printing money and we are killing a part of tree for absolutely nothing!”
Kay finally quieted down.
I wasn’t upset that night. Frankly, I didn’t give a lot of thought on what had happened. In a way, the whole incident wasn’t important enough for me.
That was many years ago, long before I started my LamRim class. A couple of years ago, again, three of us took a trip together. We arrived at the hotel late. Everyone was tired and hungry. Kay pointed at a small table in our hotel room and said to me, “Why don’t you put your suitcase on top of that, so you don’t have to bend over. It’s better for your back.”
I said, “How about you and Judy?”
“You are the only one who has back problem,” she said.
So, I did. A minute later (yes, only a minute!), Kay shouted, “Why are you putting your suitcase there? Where am I going to put mine?”
What’s her problem? It was just a minute ago she told me to place my suitcase there! I could feel blood rushing to my head. Just as I was going to shout back, I remembered “observe merit and appreciate kindness” (觀功念恩), which I’d learned in my LamRim class before my trip. For a short while, time stood still. In my mind, I went through everything Kay had done for this trip: she researched the town we were going, finding out where to go sightseeing and which restaurants we should eat at; she worked with a traveling company to arrange our transportation and hotel, and she handled our money. My anger went away; I felt grateful for all the works Kay had done. Without saying a word, I moved my suitcase to a different spot.
The leader of my Lamrim class said during one of our classes, “Our feeling is deceivable!” (Not sure I translate it correctly.) Following a link at Yvette’s Group Therapy (Friday Fictioneers) And thoughts on stealing, eventually I found the Court Case web page and in it, it says “Don’t believe everything you think!”
Now you’ve heard the whole story 😉
Thank you for visiting my blog. (Aren’t you happy this is the end of NaBloPoMo? 😉