This sermon was contributed by Apprentice Phortis Nespin as part of the Open Sermon policy. We are grateful for his contribution!
The Fabric Store Incident
A short time ago I had an incident that left me feeling very upset both with myself and with the others involved in the incident. As I posted in the thread “A Break in My Shield”, I had done a few things that I had never done before, and acted in a way unbecoming a professional in my trade. Although I have come to grips with the situation and through the comments left in the thread, I feel that a criminal was thwarted in an attempt to defraud the business and the person willing to help…me!
Having said that, I will tell you that I still have uneasy emotions when I dwell on the situation. These emotions are distressing to me because I had worked very hard for many years to overcome a temper I had as a youth. Lately it seems that these emotional states, although rare, have become more apparent. It comes to me that it is because I have learned more about who I should be that I have come to expect more from others.
I have been doing much more reading about different religions since I have joined the Order. I have especially focused on Buddhist teachings of Tibetan monks. I have learned so much in such a short time that I need to take a step back every so often and re-read and contemplate on the teachings. I have begun to take a long hard look into myself in order to know who I am. BUT…there is a problem. As I learn about me, I learn about others and at times I have strong opinions of the actions of others and how it affects the world around them and me.
So now for the Ah Ha moment of my newly acquired knowledge. It is NOT my place to say what is right with others or what is wrong with others. It is NOT my life that they are living. I only have one life to live…MINE! I CANNOT change the actions of others but I CAN change my mind! It is the foundation of the self. I am me and no other. It is my ego that needs to be understood and controlled by me in order for me to live a life worthy of enlightenment in the true nature of the Force.
I have picked several of the teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist to explore with you so that you know the direction in which my path is taking. I hope to share with you the realization that it is our egos that cause us the most grief and suffering. It is only through the loss of self that we can serve others under any circumstance. It is the understanding of our place in the universe that humbles us to be compassionate to others. It is in wisdom that we learn how to serve the Force.
Let me first give you the rules by which I have lived my life so far. I am a Christian who was brought up Catholic. Through the years I have learned that it is the Bible that the answers lay, not in the teachings of a corrupted organization of men. So here is what I learned in my Christian teachings:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
You can read the Ten Commandments if you like but this simple statement by Jesus says it all. Do not kill if you don’t want to be killed. Do not steal if you don’t want to be taken from. Do not take another man’s wife if you don’t want yours taken.
Lord, give me the strength to change what I can. Give me the courage to face that which I cannot change. And most of all Lord, give me the wisdom to know the difference!
As I learned in life I realized that so much of what we encounter is unchangeable. We cannot change the actions of another person. We cannot change that which has already happened. We can change us. We can change our future actions. The wisdom to know what really needs to be changed is the most difficult to understand.
As you can see, I have not focused on the New Testament or Old, I have not remembered every line from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, I have not learned the metaphors of the Christian mythology, but I have learned that I am responsible for my actions. It is from this perspective that I continue on my path through the teachings of Buddhism.
After having left the fabric store in a total funk, I went home and picked up my copy of the Tibetan Buddhist Reader. I was reading some of the passages from various Rinpoche and the Dali Lama that I had found comforting. These words and the comforting words of my fellow Jedi calmed me and brought me back to a more peaceful place.
The words of Master Jestor really said it right when he said;
”Who among us hasn't lost their cool? Many times I've said this, and I'm going to again...We are practicing Jedi, not perfect Jedi....”
So I will continue to practice with the best of my ability, but as Yoda also said, “Do or Do Not, there is no try”, so I will do practice with the best of my ability. This leads us to the comforting words from my book, the words that state so clearly the way to control myself, the way to focus on making me responsible for my actions.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Change must come from within. The only thing we can absolutely change is ourselves, our attitudes, and our outlook. No one can stop you from changing what’s inside you.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
If you throw a ball at a wall very hard, it is not the walls fault, and it is not because of any intention on the walls part that the ball bounces back at you. It is not that the wall is aggressive. It is you that is the cause of the balls return.
We must surrender our hopes and expectations, as well as our fears, and march directly into disappointment, work with disappointment, go into it and make it your way of life. If we can open, than we suddenly begin to see that our expectations are irrelevant compared to the reality of the situations we are facing. This automatically brings disappointment. Disappointment is the best chariot to use on the path to Dharma. It does not confirm the existence of the ego and its dreams.
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is the temple; the philosophy is kindness and compassion.
Each one of these statements has a common thread running through it. We are responsible for ourselves; no one else can or should be responsible for your actions. If you allow someone to control your life, you are still responsible for the actions they forced you to perform. You can try to blame others for our actions but there will always be problems in your life. By taking control of your actions and your own mind you can reduce the suffering in your life.
Disappointment is all around us. I was disappointed in the actions of the would-be scammer. I was disappointed in myself for my unprofessional actions. As the passage states, if we can claim the disappointment and accept disappointment as inevitable, than we will soon realize that disappointment is irrelevant to our lives and we need not suffer for it. I no longer feel the disappointment of the incident because I accept it as a part of the experience of life that I have no control over.
I, you, we need to remember that we can only walk our own path. We must change our attitudes from within ourselves so that we may come to peace with ourselves. If you are rude to others expect that rudeness in return. It is because you threw the “ball” of rudeness that it hit the “wall” of the other person’s defenses and returned in kind back to you. If we accept the fact that people will be rude to us and make this inevitability an expectation, than it will become irrelevant to us and we will not be inclined to return rudeness.
If I can learn to be a kind and compassionate being without a selfish ego, I will become enlightened in the Force and suffering will cease.
May the Force guide you and keep you safe as you follow your path back to the Force.