Geshe Dorji Damdul on Mindfulness
Today, at the Mindfulness conference organized by Just Being, I had the opportunity to hear Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director of the Tibet House(New Delhi) and the official translator of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. He shunned esoteric philosophy and kept it simple, profoundly simple. At every stage he urged listeners to question what he was saying, and accept it only if they felt convinced. Here are a few things that stayed with me.
He quoted the 8th century Buddhist monk Shantideva to explain how, to address misery, one has to look inward, and not outward. When the earth is covered with thorns, and you wish to walk over it – will you think of covering all of it with leather? No. You just cover your two tiny feet and walk over the thorns.
Ignorance and self-centered attitude – these two attributes create a facade of guarding you, but end up destroying you. He narrated a story to explain how anger made one opt for a choice that one would not have made under the free will. It is a deceptively simple story – read carefully.
Recently in Delhi, when a bus barely brushed a motorcycle – and scratched it – the youth riding the bike thrashed the bus driver to death in a fit of anger. Imagine that, somehow, the boy was told ahead of time that his bike was to suffer a few scratches due to negligence of a bus driver. Let us say, then he was given two options when that were to happen – (1) reprimand the bus driver, tell him to be careful, and fix the bike for a thousand rupees, or (2) get angry, show strength, beat the driver to death and go to prison. Can there be any doubt about what option he would have chosen? Didn’t the facade of strength and courage created by his anger made him choose the course that he would not have chosen of his free will?
A counselor in the audience asked – should one advise mindfulness to a person who is in an extremely agitated state? Geshe countered – when you have a garment covered with mud, would you use detergent on it right away? Won’t you first rinse it in plain water a multiple times and only when it is free of mud would you not use detergent to remove the stains?
Interestingly, Geshe’s views on “expressing anger” were counter intuitive, and identical to what the Management Guru Adam Grant says in his recent best seller Originals. (Do check out my blog about Originals.) When you vent your anger, in the short term, it creates an illusion that it is helping you calm down. But it feeds the anger. It is a widely perpetuated myth that the anger may simmer inside you, and explode, if you don’t express it. In fact, expressing anger is harmful. It is a bait – don’t fall for it!
There was a lot more to his speech – but let me stop here. Do share your comments. Add your take-away if you were there!