I suggested to her, “you cannot practice loving-kindness without starting with yourself.”
She disagreed. She explained she helped the homeless every week and she did lots of other things to help people. She felt like any attention on herself was selfish. I understood her feelings. I asked, “if you don’t have self-love, how can you give it to others?”.
She was so quiet.
I continued,
“if you give me a gift, after the gift what do you expect to hear from me?”
She answered, “I want to hear you say thank you.”
“and if I don’t say it?”
“then you are a terrible Buddhist monk.
After a few minutes, the woman’s elbow jabbed into my side and she said: “Hey, I want this book!”. She took it out of my hands and read the title out loud to her husband “How to deal with angry people.” I was quiet a moment and responded to her “yes you do.”. She didn’t understand so I said, “you just told me you need this book and I responded, yes you do!”

I gave her the book to keep and we all laughed. In that moment she became so grateful and I realized again the dharma is always here. I realized, this woman is my Buddha, my teacher. She taught me more than so many things I studied and spent time trying to learn. The Buddha shows up in so many moments and I miss it often but when I notice I am so grateful.

I got home after midnight and right away I went to my bookshelf to find the sutra I’d been thinking about since managing this situation. I knew Buddha had taught about the Five ways to handle annoying people. I quickly found it;

1) practicing loving-kindness
2)practicing compassion
4) practicing equanimity
5) forgetting and ignoring situations that don’t serve us
5) remembering people are responsible for their action and karma
I attempt to live my practice by making choices measured against two questions;

1 | What action will cause the most benefit?

2 |What action will create the least harm?
Bhante Sujatha has taught me that I should give without remembering and receive without forgetting.
You must take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Being self centered is how you help others!
This is stupid. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying you are stupid, I’m saying this idea is stupid. You can’t practice breathing. We have to breathe, otherwise, we die! Breathing is what we focus on but it’s always there, we don’t bring our breath, we just bring awareness to it. We can choose to listen and choose to think and choose to meditate, but can you choose to breathe? Even if you think you can; you cannot. Your body will take over and do it for you automatically.