An elderly monk visited with the Dalai Lama and asked about doing some yogic exercises that he found very difficult to do at his advanced age. The Dalai Lama advised him against doing them, telling the monk he thought he was too old for those exercises. The monk seemed to take it well and left.
Then the Dalai Lama heard the monk had committed suicide. The monk believed he’d be reborn in a younger body, a body able to do the important yogic exercises.
The Dalai Lama relays this story in an interview incorporated into his book, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, and I heard it listening to the fabulous Pema Chödrön in Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual Patterns and Encountering Naked Reality.
The interviewer had asked the Dalai Lama if he has anything in his life that he feels bad about having done. The Dalai Lama replied with the story about the monk. Chödrön relays,
So the Dalai Lama was left with regret that he had unintentionally nevertheless been responsible for this man’s death, this man’s suicide. The interviewer was stopped in his tracks and he said, “Oh my goodness, how did you ever get rid of that feeling?”
The Dalai Lama paused for quite a long time and he thought about that and then he said, “I didn’t. It’s still there. I just don’t allow it to drag me down and pull me back. I realized that being dragged down or held back by it would be to no one’s benefit…not mine or anybody else’s so I go forward and do the best I can.”
We have this idea that we either have it or we get rid of it and the question came from that point of view….But there’s an ability to be pierced to the heart by the sorrow of the world and your own regrets without it dragging you down.
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