Friday, January 27, 2012

Making the world safe

I pitched a fit at work this week ("pitch a fit: Urban emotional outburst using verbal and animated expressions." -- oh, yeah, that pretty much covers it). I usually employ mindfulness in the workplace -- drop the story line, rest in the middle of the vicissitudes, adopt an attitude of "what do we have to do now, in this minute?" Remember to breathe.

But this day ... there were notes waiting for me on my keyboard about issues I thought were already settled, people coming up to ask questions about things I didn't have the information yet to answer and who were huffy about the preliminary answers I gave them, capped off by a computer that was reluctant to get moving at the speed I needed.

That was all workable. But then I went to the spare work station (because we have backup plans for working with frequently uncooperative equipment) -- and it had no mouse. No f*ing mouse, as I loudly and repeatedly announced. The desk behind this one had a mouse but no computer, so the problem was fairly easily solved and my fit dissolved.

But I felt bad. A fit pitched cannot be unpitched -- and a couple of days later, at a going-away party for a colleague, a co-worker brought it up, not critically, but as uncharacteristic and (my tag) discouraging. If you're driven to fit-pitching, he said (not in those words), what hope is there for non-meditators to hold onto their shit?

Karma comes home.

I like to think that one of the benefits of my meditation practice is that I no longer react as if everything is about me; this is most noticeable for me at work. If there is a problem, then it is something to be worked with, not a blame to throw around. Let's do what needs to be done rather than getting caught up in stories about who's to blame or why we are insulted or what we would like to be happening in this moment. It has made work more fun for me and for others who work in my wake.

The skillful thing to do when there is no mouse is to find a mouse. Not to yell about why would there be a computer with no mouse. Unskillful.

Also this week, I listened to a talk on intention and the precepts by Mary Stancavage of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. Something she said stuck with me:

"When we're behaving skillfully, we make it safe for others."

In Buddhism, when you break a precept, you confess -- not for absolution, as in the Roman Catholic Church, but to take responsibility for your actions. So this is my confession. In the Roman Catholic Church a priest would tell me what to do as penance for my sin. In the Buddhist tradition, I start over, knowing that every day offers myriad opportunities to behave skillfully.

The person who practices the precepts gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, and in giving freedom from danger and freedom from animosity and freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, she gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression.
(The Abhisanda Sutta)

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