In my last post, I mentioned my current battle against my one evil. In my case, my one evil is my lack of self esteem, which makes me dependent from other people’s approval.
My journey to finding and transforming my one evil has been long and complicated. I went through several experiences in my life.
Transforming my financial karma was one step in my journey. It was my second absolute victory and the first time I felt I had really accomplished the impossible.
Sometimes, I make myself go back at my recent past, a time when having a coffee with friends meant completely reworking my weekly budget, and buying clothes in anything but a charity shop was out of the question. I don’t want to forget that time, I MUST not forget that time, I have to cling to every struggle, to every time when I felt impotent and hopeless. Not to delve in past misery, nor to gloat. I need to remember the pain in order to be able to really empathise with the people in my district and chapter who are going through similar problems at the moment, so that I can feel true compassion and find the right words to encourage them.
As I mentioned in a previous post, finding the right exercise routine has been an important step in my journey. Since then, I have been keeping up with my routine (mostly), and really enjoying it.
I felt really strongly that in order to keep up with it, I should set myself some sort of goal, hence why I decided to prepare a choreography and dance at the next Buddhist course.
Then I went to Dedicated Lilac training. Every year after graduation, the National team prepares an album to send to Sensei. This year, they decided to open up this annual gift to all the Lilacs, asking us to freely decide what we wanted to contribute, both individually and as a team.
At the time we stand up to say our determinations, some sort of craziness possessed me and I stood up to say that I was going to record a video of myself dancing and send it to Sensei.
I will say more about the practical aspects of this experience (which has been amazing so far, and completely mental), later on when I have the video (which is HERE!), now I wanted to say something more about the reason why I am doing it.
First and foremost, I realised that I have never written to Sensei since the age of 10, when the written part of my Middle school exams took the form of a letter to him (I got top marks, just so you know).
And I suddenly understood that strengthening my relationship with my mentor was essential in order to break through this state of deadlock.
There are TONS of excellent study materials on the mentor disciple relationship, so I'm not even trying to summarise them here (I'll put a few links at the bottom of the page).
I'll just put a couple of quotes here (me likes quotez):
The role of the mentor is to point toward an ideal and the most effective means of its achievement, while the disciple strives to realize this ideal on an even greater scale than has been achieved by the mentor. The shared ideal, and the shared struggle to realize it, create a profound closeness in the lives of mentor and disciple--what Buddhism describes as the 'oneness' of mentor and disciple. This is the lifeblood of Buddhism. (quoted from here)Get it? The lifeblood of Buddhism!
One who refuses to seek the advice of others will eventually be led to a path of ruin. A mentor helps you to perceive your own weaknesses and confront them with courage. The bond between mentor and protégé enables us to stay true to our chosen path until the very end. (Daisaku Ikeda, quoted from here)As a Dedicated Lilac, I am under Sensei's direct tutelage. This means that I have an incredible opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my mentor during these two years.
[t]he oneness of mentor and disciple in Nichiren Buddhism is not a passive relationship, where the disciple waits for instructions from the mentor. It is an active two-way process based on a vow or pledge that both disciple and mentor make to continuously develop their characters for the sake of the happiness of other people. (quoted from here)
This is why we are all encouraged to write to Sensei and develop a "personal" relationship with him. This doesn't equal to worship him, and it doesn't mean that he is somewhat superior or different to us. Quite the opposite, in fact:
Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death. This is a matter of the utmost importance for Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters, and this is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra.” (emphasis mine,“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 216)Simply the figure of mentor is necessary in order to truly progress in our faith. In this situation, Daisaku Ikeda took that responsibility. And he took it seriously. One only has to read the editorials and articles he writes constantly to encourage his millions of disciples around the globe.
I don't envy him one bit :).
In order to strengthen my bond with my mentor, I decided to really allow myself to show my talent, which can only happen if I really and truly appreciate, recognise and cherish my talent to begin with.
No more waiting for someone else to validate me, no more hiding in a corner, desperately wanting to be centre stage and knowing you could do it, and you could do it, but lacking the guts to take that one step forward and take that stage (metaphorical or real) for myself.
There is also another reason.
I said just a few dozen lines above that I need to remember my past woes in order to be able to feel true compassion with the people in my care.
Especially as leaders, we need to feel gratitude for our problems, because the suffering enables us to feel compassion, and because winning against our suffering gives us the possibility to inspire others.
I remember how it felt to hate my body with such a furious passion that I would punch it, bite into my flesh, scratch it and starve it, all because I felt trapped and powerless, I felt a zero of humanity because of the layers of fat.
And while I still remember it, I will be showing that same body (within reason, obviously :)) and be completely proud of it, I will show love for myself in every movement, in every action, and I know that someone out there needs to see this.
Someone needs to see the girl who hated her body bellydancing her heart out, exposing that same flesh and feeling confident about it.
Someone out there is allowing a partner to make them feel worthless, and they need me to transform my karma so I can inspire them.
This is my vow, and I will never forsake it!
Further reading on Mentor and Disciple relationship:
The Unity of Mentor and Disciple.
Mentor and Disciple.
Differing views on the Mentor/Disciple relationship.
Seeking/strengthening the relationship of mentor and disciple.