The Subtle in Me – Part 3 – Room 10F
Last week’s note was quite long, and based on my website’s analytics, it led to a drop in my readership. So, to make-up for last week’s prolixity, I am going to share a real short note with you today. My focus will be on perspective. There is a story on the famous book by Stephen Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that has stuck with me for more than 25 years. I share that story in my classes and have totally internalized it. Yet, during my ten-day silence retreat, I fell in the same trap, leading to a shift in paradigm, and like Covey’s story, leaving me feeling shame and much repentance.
Covey, in his book shares the story of his train ride home one evening, and a man’s four children who were disturbing the peace in the train. When asked on why he does not control his kids, the man responds that they are heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the mother of the four children had passed away. This knowledge led to a shift in paradigm in Covey and instead of condemning the rude children and their inconsiderate father; a sense of empathy kicked in and love replaced his cynicism.
Going back to my retreat story, after complaining about the Nepalese lady. I will call her F10 moving forward, since she stayed in room 10F, across the hall from me. The program managers and the Assistant Teacher, said they can’t share personal information about this lady as to why she is being so inconsiderate; but they promised to take care of the situation, allowing me to keep my silence, and not be bothered by her noise.
On day four we learned the actual Vipassana technique. That night, F10 decided to take a shower at midnight. (way pass the lights out time). She then watched a loud soap opera on her phone or laptop. Moreover, every 20 minutes of so, she would bang her door going to the bathroom. I am sure I have mentioned to my readers, that lack of sleep for no “good reason” turns me into an ogre. A “good reason” in my opinion is travelling or taking care of a sick person, where you have no other choice, and will learn to adjust. But loosing sleep because of someone else’s thoughtless behavior, does bring out the monster in me.
So, the next day, on my way to breakfast, with only two hours of sleep, scary looking and now completely irate, I waited for the Program Manager’s cart to reach me on the dirt road to the kitchen. I had to say something about F10. Upon seeing me from far, the Program Managers looked at each other and very obviously changed their path to avoid me. I guess they saw the fume coming out of my ears. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I continued my walk to the kitchen. As I reached the kitchen, I noticed they are behind me. They stopped the cart and asked if I am ok, as at this point, I was in tears. I shared my angst and added that I am willing to finish the course this way and suffer from the lack of a good night sleep, especially since they have done nothing to address the issue.
To make a long story short, they drove me to the Assistant Teacher, where I refused to kneel in front of her like other students. I felt the need to teach the teacher a few things. So, I told her, sometimes the student becomes a teacher. I shared a little about my personal life, so she grasps my tolerance level. I also told her how disappointed I was with their lack of concern for my wellbeing and not keeping her promise to address the issue. She was very tolerant of my unruly behavior as a student. I guess, sometimes one has to push to be heard. She finally offered to move me to another building.
That day, I had to pack and with the help of the program managers, I moved during the afternoon teatime. Still confused, as to why I had to move and not F10; or why not a simple talk with her to make her follow the rules like the rest of us. I decided to let it go and focus on my meditation training.
On day 10, when students could finally talk, I found out the sad truth about F10. The information that someone shared with me, was numbing and the piercing pain in my heart, was almost intolerable. I found out, two months ago, she gifted her youngest son a new car for his high school graduation, and that same night, he gets into an accident and drops his body. If I had known, I would gladly endure the sleepless nights, and would even break my silence to help her.
So often, we see things from where we are standing. Like the photo above, until we view things from the other side, we will never know. In retrospect, If I knew that she can only see a 9 from where she was standing, I would not be so worried about MY sleep, MY space, MY retreat!
How often the MY notion makes us forget…that from the above the figure is neither a 6 nor a 9, it just is a figure. The fire in my heart, after hearing F10’s tragic story, made me clean; made me see things clearer like when I had returned from India. So, I was a student after all…I am so grateful for the experience and the humility it carried.
The experience with F10 taught me; (one more time) that if I simply remove MYSELF out of the equation, the truth may reveal itself quicker, preferably before I make a fool of it, but being a fool is quite humbling and is not as bad as some imagine it to be. The burn in my heart was the exact vehicle needed to move me to her side and see things from her perspective and the capacity to feel her profound pain.
I approached her later and apologized for not responding to her hello, and told her, I will be sending her strength through meditation.
There is still so much to share about this retreat and how I was introduced to the subtle in me. The experience was magical and reminded me of the show Star Trek, that I use to watch as a child. Where Captain Kirk would ask: "Scotty, beam me up!", and how his being turned into small particles and was teleported to the desired destination. I learned that we have constant sub-atomic movements in our body, but our mind and thoughts prevent us from feeling their motions. On my next note, I will share the Vipassana experience and how quieting my mind, yield me to experience the sub-atomic particles' movements in my body. Stay tuned...