‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you’
Sounds familiar? How many times have you felt ‘under attack’, wrongly accused and ganged up against when, in all honesty, you truly couldn’t see why or where this blame was coming from? It may be easier to deal with such a situation when one is feeling centred and strong- where one’s energy and emotions are less likely to be affected by, or be at the beck and call of, the wrath of others who, quite obviously, are losing it!
But what happens when we’re caught off-guard, when we’re not so centred and mindful and when the situation brings back habitual energies that cause us to respond as we ‘used to’ in our past life. We feel we’ve worked so hard to make progress, to go beyond this habit energy and find the right words to defuse the situation. However, the words sound like they’re coming from a place of defence and we’re caught in that trap of being totally influenced by the mood of others. Or, are we?
‘ If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too’
In the very moment of recognising the arising of the habit energy, we can observe this happening and, in the noticing and the allowing, we begin to rise above the situation- above the battered ego and become present to the truth of who we truly are, to the possibility of peace and coherence. This cannot be a smug, patronising state of mind, but rather one of humility where we clearly see our role within the situation and, allowing for that, we make the necessary adjustments to our voice, our attitude, our physiology and trust in our shared humanity.
‘If you can wait and not be tired by waiting’
It may seem an eternity before any subtle change gives hope. It’s so easy to give up along the way and declare that all this self-improvement, all this ‘introspection’, this mindfulness stuff, is not working. That things are worse now than they have ever been, and we can clearly see things about ourselves that we’d rather have left hidden. That’s the time to hold on and trust, to allow the doubt to disintegrate and the sensation of knowingness to enter and calm the heart.
‘Or being lied about… don’t deal in lies’
And just as the heart begins to settle, a new challenge arises, and one has the choice of allowing the battered ego to resurface and give as good as it gets or to go beyond the lies being spoken and cultivate the sense of truth within oneself whereby no words nor actions can deter one from the path. This seems a tough call but, to fall at this stage would not only be to throw away all the knowledge or insight one has gained, but also to proclaim oneself a phony, incapable of compassion and understanding of the human condition.
‘ Or being hated, don’t give way to hating’
This human condition that deems each one of us to be doing the best we can with the resources we have. Knowing this, such sentiments as ‘hate’ may be dissipated and we may, again, question our role in attracting this hatred. Seeing it as an observer, not caught up in emotion, we can acknowledge both the sentiment and the one from whom it comes.
‘ And yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise’
Herein lies the skill, the wisdom to acknowledge and discern what lies behind the hate or the lies and remain humble, for each of us is capable of being both the one who lies and hates or the one who is lied about and hated. The veil is so thin that it’s like stepping into a mirror, but stepping in with equanimity and wisdom so that the stepping out is egoless. There is nothing helpful about being patronised, either by someone’s demeanour or by their language. Thich Nhat Hanh spoke about the importance of speaking to people in terms they understand- to communicate with respect and equanimity.
From this space hatred can be dissipated and love step in to take its place. And so the practice continues.