DAY THIRTEEN: Friday, 2nd April 2010
I just spent a total of 7 hours at the Hair Salon today, trying to get the colours just right. And guess what? I have to go back there tomorrow again to finish the job!
If there is one sure way of watching time melt away in utter waste, it is at the Hair Salon. At least for me, anyways. Although I guess, in our line of media work, it is a necessary evil.
There are a few things I seriously do not enjoy at the Hair Salon, and these are - getting my mani and pedi done, colouring my hair and perming my hair.
I can take the Hair Treatments, and the usual wash and blow. But beyond that, I get very agitated.
With mani and pedi, I can’t stand how long it takes for my nails to dry. I mean, really dry. I usually smudge mine or dent them before I even leave the salon. You can just see me cursing under my breath. Although these days, it is kept at a minimum.
With colouring, they take forever to seep through my hair, because us, Asians, who have black coarse hair – this is just pure “torturous training" in "Patience”.
So, I decided to pack along my lap top to work, and also, did my sadhanas there. I even ate my lunch right there.
The only redeeming fact is that this particular Hair Salon that I go to, is actually run and owned by a very lovely family. Yes, this Hair Salon is a family business, headed by two wonderful sisters with their parents as well. So, the whole family, minus their brother, their husbands and children, are at work.
I particularly enjoy their warmth, friendship, sincerity and their personalised attention to each customer. At this day and age, this is almost like a lost treasure as we replace humans with a recorded robotic voice at the end of the telephone line.
So, I truly cherish the people behind this Hair Salon and they make my visits there, always pleasurable and hospitable.
Anyhow, there I was sitting in my chair, with my head all wrapped up in foils and cling film, looking more like Madam Medusa than anything else, one of the sisters came over to me, and whispered, “Can I ask you a really personal question?”
Hmm...this is always a little tricky to answer, because I never know what I am getting myself into. But seeing that I have already known these sisters for a few years now, and they are never malicious or unkind, I said, yes.
So, she asked sincerely, “How do you feel when you see all these women here, doing their hair and nails and living the life that you used to live, and now you are sitting here, doing your daily prayers instead? I am just really curious.”
I guess, a lot of people are very curious as to how I, the Queen of Sloth and Self-Indulgence, who made "Contempt for All" into an Art Form that was to be worshipped with pomp and panache, could ever become the person I am today.
Frankly, I do not even know what others really think of the person I am today. But I guess, the difference must be quite noticeable that ‘the audience’ has become so fascinated with me, or rather, by me.
What happened to you, Shirley? Did you get so heart broken, and damaged that you need to turn to Buddha?Are you so lost? When will you get married again? Why are you NOT even dating anyone? So, you have decided to be a nun or what?
So many questions get passed around and yet none could be more interested in the reality of things, or even my true well being, for that matter.
But the woman standing next to me at that very moment was genuinely interested to know how my mind works now that I see life and people differently. Although theirs is a business primarily aimed at beautifying the people on the outside, the sisters never fail to be shocked and downright horrified by some people’s ugliness on the inside. And no amount of ‘wash and blow’at their Hair Salon would ever eradicate that kind of ‘foulness within’.
So, I told her the truth.
“I was just wondering whether they are really happy while I was praying, and I dedicated my prayers to them finding their true happiness. But you know, just because they may all appear like this or like that to us, it does not mean that it is true. We do not know what is actually going on in their minds, and hearts. So, it is good that I offer my best prayers to them and wish them well.”
I made sure that I explained myself very clearly and gently.
The woman was stunned for a second. I suspect that she was more shocked by me being able to make that kind of statement. Because the ‘old me’ would have unleashed her best claws, fangs and whips for all to bear.
“Wow, this Dharma and Guru must really be working for you, huh?” She smiled.
“Yes, they most certainly have helped me a great deal. You should try it yourself sometimes.” I said cheekily.
Honestly, I cannot say how much I have changed on the outside. I mean, I am still doing most of the things that I enjoy doing but I no longer crave for them like a drug addiction. Above all, I do them with a higher motivation. And the question I’ll always ask myself is, “How will this benefit me or anyone in the real sense?”
If the answers is yes, without being sneaky and cheating of course, then I would most likely go ahead and do it, full knowing what the real purpose is.
Here, it is very important that I know the difference between fooling myself, and fooling Karma.
When we fool others or ourselves, only we would know and we can go on pretending that it don’t matter one bit. However, when you try to fool Karma, there is no such thing as “forgive and forget”.
Karma is merciless and unforgiving, because SHE remembers everything. (Yes, in my own literary world, I always refer to Karma as a SHE, and I refer to Death as a HE. And yes, I imagine that they are either best mates or married to each other. Don't ask me why.)
We cannot run or hide from Karma. Every single word, act, breath and thought is documented with such meticulous passion because they will all come back to haunt us in the end. That is the time when Karma confronts us with a long list of whatever we have done, said, thought and etc. There is simply no escaping.
Though, please bear in mind that Karma does have two sides to her – SHE has a GOOD side and a BAD side. So, when we do good things, we activate and engage the GOOD KARMA. But when we do bad things, we incur the wrath of the BAD KARMA.
Bad Karma is like a BITCH hell bent on getting at us for every single thing, big or small, that we have done wrong. SHE will never let us get away with anything. And SHE will never be lenient about it all. And no, you can't bribe HER or seduce HER. Yea, just dream on!
Do not even think for one second that we can get the Buddhas to become our 'mediators'. Even the Buddhas cannot help us “negotiate” with our Bad Karma for a “lighter sentence”. The Buddhas cannot reverse what has already been done in by us. Once we have decided to throw the dice of our life in a particular way, our Karma starts to roll. That’s the whole point of Karma. SHE is the JURY, JUDGE and EXECUTIONER with an eternal photographic memory.
The more that I learn about Karma, the more deathly afraid I have become of HER BAD SIDE. And at the time of DEATH, is when you will witness and bear the full extent of HER FURY. Hence, I do suspect that KARMA and DEATH are buddies or a married couple.
So, whatever bad thoughts you have, don’t even think about it. Just let them go. It ain’t worth it.
And whatever bad deeds you are even thinking of doing, again, don’t even think about it. Just let them go. Everything will come back and bite you in the worst place possible, and at your worst time imaginable.
Do not even tempt Karma. Just don’t go there.
That’s my advice to myself, and to all of you. Yes, I have to remind myself every chance I get.
Now, let me share with you all, what remains of my DAY THIRTEEN (hopefully, without incurring any Bad Karma) -
Weight: 54 kg (Ya, ya, ya – what else is new?)
No. Of Prostrations: 25
Daily Sadhanas: Check and Done with Death Meditation and Dzambala Mantra added to the list.
Physical Exercise: Nada. Will have to make up more in the next few days.
Daily Reflection from "IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" – Ok, here it is. My eyes are closed my eyes and I picked out page 065.
“When a person whom you have benefited and in whom you have placed great hope hurts you, it is not that person who has hurt you. It is your wrong intent, wrong motive and wrong projection toward that person that have hurt you.”
Personal Thoughts and Feelings:
Again, these are wonderful words to accompany what I have been trying to illustrate about Karma and HER two sides. It reminds me of a verse I truly love from “Yonten Shigyurma: Foundation of All Good Qualities”. It is part of the Lam Rim Prayer by Lama Tsongkhapa.
Let me guess, you are sitting there and wondering who is Lama Tsongkhapa and what is the Lam Rim Prayer.
Lama Tsongkhapa is the Founder of the Gelugpa Lineage, and he built the three greatest monasteries in Tibet: Gaden, Drepung and Sera. Also known, as the Second Buddha. In fact, the Buddha himself, predicted Lama Tsongkhapa’s coming, and Lama Tsongkhapa went on to institutionalize Buddha’s Teachings in a scholastic and monastic manner that has been passed down from one generation to another, to form the precious unbroken lineage, traceable all the way to Lord Buddha himself. One of the most important great acts that Lama Tsongkhapa did, and he achieved plenty, is to have composed the LAM RIM.
Lam Rim is the concise and complete discourse on the Path To Enlightenment. Yup, every single step, expounded in guiding us out of the “darkness” and into the LIGHT.
If Lama Tsongkhapa were alive today, it might very well be called, “The Idiots’ Guide to Total Self-Liberation”. I am not joking, because HE has made it so easy, accessible and convenient for all of us to learn, understand and master a subject that is most profound.
The Lam Rim is truly a powerful book, tool and wealth of valuable information.
You can read all about Lama Tsongkhapa and the Lam Rim in www.kechara.com/
So, one of my favourite verses from the Lam Rim is this “...And after death my good and bad Karma follows me like my shadow.”
Yup, even in death and the after-life, Karma will continue to escort us, keeping a close and comprehensive tab on us.
Hence, it is truly in our best interest NOT to harm others in whatever way or form, despite what the other person may or may not have done. It is merely the way that we have perceived what they may or may not have done. It is from our point of reference, and that may not be the absolute truth. Because our point of reference is often coloured and blinded by our own expectations, our conditioning and our self-interests.
Whether someone is or is not, whether something is or isn’t, may not be as what we like to think it is. It may not be what it seems at all. Simply because, we are constantly looking at life and people with our own prejudiced coloured lenses. Until we discard this habit, we will continue to misunderstand and create further misunderstandings for ourselves and others.
Therefore, the best way is to realise Karma and Death instead. Then we will not be so eager to get back at anyone, or wish ill on others who have supposedly wronged us. We can exercise a better choice, a good choice that is truly a win-win situation for all concerned – and this will always be the one that is motivated by compassion. Then we do not have to incur any bad karma for ourselves, as a result.
I do realise that this is not an easy subject matter to understand, let alone, accept. But if we seriously do want peace, harmony and happiness, then we all have a stake in upholding them, and putting them into our daily practice. Then this does not become just someone else’s job, but also ours. Equally and undisputedly.
For those who would like to learn more about Karma, or Lama Tsongkhapa or the Lam Rim, please log into www.tsemtulku.com or check out his real-life teachings at www.youtube.com/tsemtulku. For those you wish to purchase books on these subject matters, then please visit http://www.vajrasecrets.com/ or http://www.kechara.com/.
I hope this has been another useful sharing.
Have a wonderful Easter!