I watched a clip this morning of the Dalai Lama's reaction to the horrific events in Tibet/China where an essential genocide is occurring at worst and the killing of a culture at best. His message was very animated, he showed his frustration and upset over the violence between the Chinese and Tibetans. He reiterated that if the violence continues, he will resign once and for all as the political leader of Tibet and will continue only as the spiritual leader of Tibet. These are very sad times.

What impressed me about the Dalai Lama's comments was his passion. He did not report his message in a dispassionate way, as Barack Obama did brilliantly yesterday morning in his discussion on race. The Dalai Lama was hot under the robes. He looked near tears and close to outrage.

It was an eventful morning. I also had a discussion with my husband about meta messaging and how we communicate and hear things based on our own internal state. I had told him a few days ago that something he communicated was judgmental and hurtful to me. I told him that even though I love him I felt like I did not like him very much at that moment. This morning he was adamant that I had told him that I hated him during that conversation. I kept my cool while he told me that I was in denial and blocking my own memory of the communication with him. As we processed together, he remembered clearly…..and he apologized for his error in "hearing". He acknowledged that I had said that I loved him but did not like him much at that moment in our conversation.

When we are in an emotional state of turmoil on any level, both our receiving as well as our delivery of our message can be very distorted. We will say things that we don't mean in anger and we will hear things that aren't said. This is pretty amazing in terms of how the mind is the cause of delusion.

I am an American Buddhist. My Buddhism is informed by my American culture. Tibetan Buddhism is informed by their culture so their practice and expression of their Buddhism is different than my Western expression. In the West we are steeped in Christian concepts. This makes it very difficult to understand Karma in the way that Eastern cultures do. When I attempt to teach the concept to my clients, they often feel that Karma is some kind of punishment that is coming from without onto them. I struggle myself to take the punishment concept off of my own understanding of Karma. I remind myself of simple cause and effect. That when we spew negativity or non virtuous behavior out from ourselves, we will eventually receive the same energetic effect. When clients are baffled by how tough their lives are and they look at the arc or their life and cannot find a source for their "bad fortune" they feel that life is unfair and they become jaded. "What's the use!" is a common reaction. When we understand that pain in this life can be a ripening of pain caused in another, our suffering becomes a bit easier to swallow.

Another tendency I see in American Buddhists as well as other committed religious people, is to cover up negativity for the sake of being forgiving and compassionate. Rather than processing the pain or negativity and transforming it into compassion for self and others, the middle step (processing) is skipped and we attempt to go directly to compassion. This as far as I am concerned is play acting. We pretend that we are compassionate by being "nice" but all the pain and negativity goes right into a gunny sack that we carry around with us wherever we go. It is the gunny sack that informs our messaging and creates the meta message which I call passive aggressive behavior. Remember that passive aggressive behavior is like the dog that jumps up on our shoulders and licks our face while urinating on our feet.

The challenge for the Western Buddhist or the practicing Christian or Jew or Muslim is to commit to the middle step. We must be willing to acknowledge our painful or icky emotion, embrace it, and then with our higher thinking, transform it through understanding into compassion. If we don't we will leave a trail of wounded family members and friends who were the recipients of our buried and convoluted wrath.

The Dalai Lama was very skilled in his expression this morning. He allowed his passion to show without needing to pretend that he is better than or higher than being upset. Barack Obama must have done his work to transform his outrage over the sound bites that he had to watch over and over presented by the media of his imperfect Pastor, who he loves as a family member, being taken out of context and smeared day after day. He transformed his pain and outrage to an understanding of both whites and blacks, and all humans who experience unfairness. He rose above the fray to reach out to all people who have experienced pain and who have perpetrated pain on others. He honestly acknowledged his own imperfection. He was able to bring us all together……It was brilliant.

The Dalai Lama is a very enlightened being who is skilled in his communication and kind deep into his heart. Barack Obama is wise in a way that many deeply spiritual beings have exemplified by their lives….perhaps he is a Bhodisattva just like the Dalai Lama.

It is essential for clarity that we devote ourselves to the middle step of processing our negativity. Both of these men are attempting to teach us to go deep into our hearts, to face our own pain and ugliness, and to learn from this…and then once we learn from this we can begin to teach it to others.


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