My MIO modem is spoilt, so I cannot use my laptop to surf or blog. However thank heavens I have my iPhone to tweet and blog and almost everything else.
Its 2am, my stomach is growling and I am in bed trying to sleep. And since I can't get to sleep yet, think I shall attempt to blog on my iPhone. Having many thoughts during this period. Many of our thoughts and emotions are mostly due to our daily interaction with people (which we cannot avoid). We are actually quite a reactive bunch. It is always due to this and that person that cause us to be happy / sad / angry etc.. When we are happy we like to think it must be because of so and so who gave me treat, who has done me a favor, bought me a gift... We think that person or something is the cause of our happiness.
Likewise, we are extra quick to blame someone when they did us injustice or make us angry/sad. We always see the need to blame the cause of our unhappiness to someone else too. Through our deluded thoughts, we never think or allow ourselves to think that we are actually the one at fault.
How do I keep myself in check when I am being too judgemental, or too quick to blame someone else for my misfortunes or unhappiness? Well, for me, putting myself in another person's shoes does help.
A couple of days ago, while having dinner at my neighborhood coffeeshop, I saw an old neighbor since my old house days. Let's call him Mr Chen. My parents know him but I do not think he knows me.
Mr Chen is probably around late 60s or early 70s. Due to a little immobility (weak legs cause him to limp slightly, and walk slowly), he is always sitting downstairs at the void deck or watching tv/ having meals at the same coffeeshop. He also eats slowly. I heard he has a wife and daughter. But he is always alone downstairs.
I remember in his younger days, Mr Chen was such an active person and athletic healthy looking. He was also one of the PAP grassroots leader/worker always seen running around our estate and organizing resident events. His looks of confidence and smiles then were a far cry from today. When I see him now, I cannot help but feel sad for him. But why do I feel sad for him, a stranger, when I do not even know his life story. For all you know, he may be happy doing what he did last time, as well as what he is doing daily now, idling and eating meals at the coffeeshops, alone. Why do I think so much "on behalf" of a stranger?
I also thought about the elderly lady I was sitting next to during the dharma session tonight. I have seen her many times before and chatted very briefly on occasions. She is a very quiet and soft spoken lady. Tonight, pointing at a scarf on her cushion, she told me that my friend had given it to her. I asked which friend. She did not know the name but after a few seconds I knew who (big wave and kudos to my 2 kind friends if you are both reading this. You know who I am referring to *grin*). In an almost apologetic way, this elderly lady then told me she has never travelled out of the country before, not even once.
I do not know why she suddenly told me that but in that instant, I feel so much for her. I am not sure if it is due to pity or astonishment or... because I was very much humbled by her. I travel a minimum of at least once or twice a year annually, until one year ago, I stopped for some reason. Cambodia was my last trip. Although I know my travels will start soon when I get things sorted out, I had been a little sad and even resentful I could not go for a number of trips which I had planned to. I have already seen half the world, yet I am unhappy I still have not seen the other half.
Then tonight, this lady just had to tell me this, an insignificant remark, but it made a huge impact on me. It sets me thinking about my priorities and a timely reminder that despite what I feel, I am still very much more fortunate than many others. This lady has not travelled once. That Mr Chen also cannot travel even if he wants to.
Like what Dagyab Rinpoche mentioned tonight... practicing Dharma is not about attending that 2-hour prayer session, or ritual, or during meditation, or going on a retreat, or attending Dharma classes. Practicing Dharma is 24 hours. 24/7. In our daily speech and action, no matter what we are doing, we have to check our mind.
I am thankful for the many Bodhisattvas or Angels in disguise who always appear to teach me a lesson, to make me check myself, to check my conflicting thoughts, to check my mind.
It's 3am, I better get to sleep. May I have auspicious dreams tonight.