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Submitted by Robert Colpitts on Fri, 7/27/2012, 8:30am
I like to give people advice. If someone gives me a chance to say what I think, I jump at it. So when someone talks to me about how difficult their life is, I listen deeply, because my turn to speak is coming. (Tongue and cheek implied.)
Recently, I’ve felt blocked when it comes to giving people advice. What I mean by that is that I haven’t had many things to say. For example, another temp at this office I am working at broke up with her boyfriend many months ago, and she still has wild emotional responses to it. She talks loquaciously about how much she suffers from that breakup, and I listen, and wonder to myself, “is there anything to say in the way of advice?” She seems to be stuck in an emotional loop. Nothing I would normally advise—“forget him,” “date someone else,” “tell him how you feel,” “have some YOU time”—gets at the heart of what causes her pain, so I say little more than “uh huh,” and “that’s sounds tough.” Perhaps that is as it should be. Perhaps people should be left alone to work their way through confusion without me flaunting my ideas all over the place.
Yet, I give advice because I want to help people, so, silence does not make sense. I try to think of the perfect thing to say. Recently, only one thing makes sense.
I asked her, “Have you ever tried meditation?”
Is introducing meditation to someone who didn’t ask for advice presumptuous and preachy? Meditation has really helped me, so why not? I mean, amidst all the intermingling ideas out there, Buddhism and meditation has been the one thing that stands up to me and my reluctance to believe anyone or trust anything. Tested by Robert Colpitts Science Inc. in my Deep C-ing Meditation Lab. Experiments conducted 2010 – 2012 in NYC, NY.
Yet, does that make it right for me to encourage others to follow me on my path? Wouldn’t that insistence be imposing my beliefs on another?
Have you ever heard the story of the blind turtle?
The story of a blind or one-eyed turtle is described in the early sutras. My understanding of that story is this: A blind turtle of immeasurable life spans surfaces from the bottom of the ocean once every 100 years. On the surface of the ocean is one log that is suitable for this turtle, but that log is tossed about by waves, currents, and winds. The chance of that blind turtle rising from the bottom of the ocean and finding himself inside of that log is described as the chance we have at being born a human. Logically, this makes sense. Of all the sentient creatures on earth, human beings make up only a very, very, very small percentage. According to entomologist Dr. E.O. Wilson, for every human being on earth, there are two billion insects. If there were only human beings and insects on earth, that would make it a 0.0000000005% chance of selecting a human out of the total number of humans and insects. As we know, there are many more living beings on the planet besides humans and insects.
Additionally, only as humans do we have the opportunity to understand the teachings of Buddhism and to practice meditation. It is rare, as a human, to be introduced to Buddhism; it is also rare to be in a place in one’s life where the teachings can be received.
So, count me extremely lucky not only to have been born human, but to have been introduced to Buddhism at a time in my life when I was able to hear it. (Though, admittedly, since good Buddhist teachers encourage their students to test every single little idea out on the meditation cushion and in their daily life, I was probably ready for it much earlier, if only there had been someone…anyone…out there…to say…Robert, have you tried meditation?)
The reason I had so little advice to give to this woman was because so little out there is truly helpful. Most recommendations besides meditation seemed insufficient or unhelpful. Sure, I could tell her to ‘stop worrying’ about whether or not the relationship will ever happen again, or I could encourage her to ‘try harder’ to be more compassionate, or, even, nobly, encourage her to take up exercise and improve her diet, but, in the end, meditation and Buddhist philosophy is what is going to put her on a path to reduce her suffering.
After asking my colleague if she had tried meditation, I started to talk to her about it. I told her that meditation would help her ease her mind, that it would make her life feel easier and calmer. I told her it is secular and non-religious. I tried to make it sound pleasant and easy and good. And it is. You go, you get some basic instruction, you calm down a bit, and now you have a tool for easing your mind when you need it.
I know there is much more to Buddhism and meditation than that, but really, all I needed to do was get her to go to one intro to meditation class, and that would plant a powerful seed in her mind about how she might be able to reduce her suffering.
Guess what? This week, when I came into the office, she told me she went to the intro to meditation class on Sunday, and that she was attending the Wednesday class!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could convince this woman to go to meditation. She didn’t seem the type. She seemed too caught up in her own universe.
But I was wrong. Well, wrong in my perception of what she was ready for. I was right to ask her the question that could really help her.
“Have you ever tried meditation?”
Meditation has been of great benefit to me. I think there are many people out there who could benefit from meditation, and all we have to do is talk lightly and casually about how good meditation is.
Will you join me, and introduce your friends, family, and coworkers to meditation the next time you offer them advice? I mean, just a casual, “have you ever tried meditation?” is a good start. I know it might seem awkward at first, but it is less awkward than forcing your friend to play their hand at the casino of rebirth. You never know when they’ll get have another opportunity to hear about meditation. The chances are pretty slim.
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