I’d put off this apology because it involved confessing to being jealous – something I’d rather not have known about myself or admitted to anyone else.
It’s been a bit of a week for finding new awful parts of me. A few days ago I had a heated discussion with Kaspa. It was that kind of discussion where you keep getting back around to the same place and clashing against each other. Ouch! Ouch!
I finally realised that I was trying to avoid acknowledging that I’d been mean to someone. And that I am sometimes mean, in a particular way, because of reasons I can guess at but am yet to work out. It was a new realisation, and it came accompanied by shame and regret and sadness.
There’s a line in our morning liturgy which goes like this:
Saving grace, as was made clear by Shan Tao’s dream and advice to Tao Cho, only comes through the sange-mon.
Don’t worry about those chaps Shan Tao & Tao Cho. All you need to know is that ‘sange’ means contrition and ‘mon’ means gate.
As I was feeling the shame of being someone-who-is-mean, I remembered this line. Saving grace. What does that mean? Could I have some?
The way I experienced it, feeling contrite meant that I was able to open myself up to knowing that I was loved anyway, just as I was. As a Buddhist, I conceptualise of this love as the grace of Amida Buddha. You might feel it is as coming from another part of your own self, or God, or Gaia, or something ineffable that you can’t put into words.
This doesn’t cancel the contrition out, or let me off the hook. I still feel the shame, and that is appropriate. It isn’t a beat-myself-around-the-head indulgent kind of shame, which we sometimes become attached to. It doesn’t linger. But it is this shame which will motivate me to say sorry where appropriate. It is this shame which shows me I have been affected by how I have treated others, because I care about them.
But I do feel that I did step through the gate of contrition, and that there was something on the other side. It transformed me. I became someone slightly different. I survived knowing this about myself, and knowing that I’ll go on to be mean again and again. I became (I hope) more able to feel compassion for others, and more able to love. I became more whole.
What do you need to acknowledge about yourself? Is there anyone you’d like to say sorry to? Can you feel yourself moving through the gate of contrition, and coming out onto the other side? Can you feel the golden glow?
Just as you are -
Just as you are.
We’re off on retreat to France soon and so won’t be around so much – see you in July! In the meantime you can start one of our ’31 Days’ (of joy, gratitude, mindful writing or positive action) at any time and pay what you choose. Let us accompany you…