Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Buddhahood-tinted spectacles

Not all my experiences have to be about deep, life changing stuff.
Nichiren Buddhism is real life, and real life is about little things as well as big and profound things.
Sure, with this Buddhism a chinwag with some girlfriends ends up being about transmigration and how to escape the endless cycle of birth and death, but it's not all philosophy.

So, let's talk about this little thing that happened to me today.

 Last year, I finally sorted out myself financially and went to get new glasses. I thought the frame was a bit loose, and discovered my prescription had changed quite a bit. This year I decided I wanted to get a pair with reaction lenses, so went there with my old prescription, picked up a frame exactly like the one I had and ordered them. My prescription being only a year old it was deemed to be still accurate. There was a little voice in my head saying "Get your eyesight checked anyway" but I decided to ignore it.

Lo and behold, when I put on the new glasses, I could feel something was badly wrong. At the beginning I thought it was just because they weren't fitted properly, but after a day of feeling dizzy I tried covering one eye and realised I couldn't see properly with my left eye. Brilliant.

I also happen to suffer from BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), and between yesterday and today I had a couple of very unpleasant episodes which left me nauseous and weak.

One of my strongest worlds is the world of anger. I'm normally a profoundly angry person. Thanks to my Buddhist practice, I learnt first to channel my anger into positive things, using it as fuel, really, and then to extinguish it and let it be enlightened by wisdom. It's not easy.

My normal, knee-jerk reaction to something like this would have been:

1. Rage. Tears, foot-stomping, complaints.
2. Beating myself up at how stupid I had been not getting a little eyesight check before spending 70 quid on new glasses.
3. Obsessing on the negative aspects (i.e. the cost, the time, the frustration at having to get new lenses on a brand-new pair of glasses), completely ignoring the positive ones.
4. Finding someone else to blame, storming in the glasses shop in a state, maybe crying, complaining about what happened.
5. After solving the problem, finally realising that I had overreacted, ignored the positives and possibly had been rude to people, and beat myself up AGAIN for that.

As it happens, I have recently got into Dedicated Lilac, which means a daily daimoku target of 90 minutes. I haven't been very consistent with it, I must admit, but on Sunday I met with my Core Lilac team, most of which is made of Dedicated Lilacs, and one of my friends commented that she's keeping up with it, by not giving herself any leeway about it. Fine, I thought, thank you for that. No leeway from now on. (Good thing I meet with this lady regularly, every time I do I get a right kick up the bum and start chanting ferociously again).

So, to make a long story short, the glasses mishap happened after a shedload of daimoku, therefore my reaction was somewhat different. Let's see.

I was calm. Sure, I felt quite sick because of the vertigo, but other than that I was very calm. Luckily today it was Sports day at school, which meant finishing earlier, so I could go straight to the optician.

I accepted that it was my responsibility. I should have listened to my gut (and quite literally, believed my eyes) and got an eyesight check. I didn't. End of story.

So, I went to the optician and just explained that something was wrong with my glasses. I mentioned that I didn't feel as dizzy with my old glasses, but that was probably because I was used to them, which the optician fully agreed with. I explained that I was aware that it was my fault and was ready to pay for the new lenses on both pairs, but I really needed to solve the problem as soon as possible, because of the vertigo and the fact that I'm due to go on holiday in three weeks.

The result?

The optician squeezed me in for a test that very afternoon. A lovely lady tested my eyes and found the perfect prescription. As it happens both my eyes needed new lenses. She did additional tests to make sure my eyes were healthy because a change like this over only a year can be a concern. She gave me some advice as to how to take care of my eyesight properly and reassured me that there was no risk of becoming blind (which I've always been terrified of since I started wearing glasses at 11).

After that, I went to discuss the cost of the new lenses with the optician (who happened to be Italian! Lol!). He was actually so impressed at the way I dealt with the situation and how careful I was with my eyes that he offered me the reaction lenses for free and even gave me a discount on the test.

So, to sum up, I found myself paying LESS than what I would have payed if I had done the checks before getting the new glasses. In other words, getting the new glasses has been a great protection. If I hadn't decided that I wanted the reaction lenses, it would have probably taken me much longer to realise that my prescription had changed, which would have meant going to Spain with the wrong prescription and maybe, who knows, having a bad episode of BPPV while on holiday (not fun).

All that, no beating myself up, no tears.

I'm perfectly aware that a lot of people would be able to react this way without chanting, but for me it's a victory of humongous proportions.

And now, off to chant! (no leeway, remember?)  

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