El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Start them young

April 1, 2011 0

(Taken on my BlackBerry, edited on my iPhone)

There are so many things about this photo that bring back good memories.

It was taken in Kechara House 2, which we were so proud to open after years of having just Kechara House 1.

It was taken during Manjushri Kids’ Class, one of the many ways Rinpoche had long dreamt about to bring Dharma to others.

It is a reminder for many of the teachings Rinpoche has given me about children, about marriage and about relationships.

You see, one of my biggest hang-ups is relationships. I put so much energy into finding relationships, into maintaining them, into keeping the other person happy…so much energy goes into two people (me and him), energy that could be put to much better use by focusing elsewhere.

That is not to say that a significant other wouldn’t be important to me but, as my mum told me so long ago, why spend all of your energy, time and resources on just one or two people, when you can focus out and touch so many more people?

It’s why monks and nuns take vows of celibacy because, unless your relationship is going to benefit many, then relationships essentially are another practice of selfishness. The same applies to children and marriages.

When I first came back to Malaysia and circumstances pushed me to be single, I went through a lot of internal conflict. So much internal conflict that, sad to say, I even went to the extent of doubting my guru (which I’m fighting very hard now to repair).

I wondered why Rinpoche encouraged me to be single, thereby ending the longest relationship I had ever been in. I wondered why Rinpoche didn’t want me to be happy (incredibly stupid stupid stupid), why I couldn’t do Dharma and be in a relationship, why everyone said that I could do so much more as a single person…so many why’s.

What I didn’t see at the time (and what Rinpoche, in his infinite wisdom, saw) was that the relationship was bad for me. It wasn’t that the person was bad for me, or that the person himself was bad. In fact, he was good – kind, generous, intelligent, loyal – but it was that, again, I was driving so much energy into just me and him. I was giving up so much that was positive about myself, that the relationship was dragging me down.

Since that time, even though I’ve had a few hiccups here and there, even though I still very much enjoy flirting or checking out cute guys, I’ve come to the conclusion that for the time being, I am very happy being single.

I am very happy not having to think about whether my partner will be upset by my erratic hours, whether I am spending enough time with them, whether they will wonder why I often disappear for days on end. I am very happy not having to explain every single thing my guru asks me to do, I am very happy not having yet another person introduce doubt to my mind (when I do it well enough on my own!).

I am very happy that when I wake up, when I go through my day and when I go to sleep at night, I only need to think of one thing – never giving Rinpoche bad news.

What is bad news to Rinpoche?

That I was selfish, that I didn’t do my job, that I was irresponsible, that I hurt someone else. All that is bad news to Rinpoche because I am creating more negative karma for myself.

From following Rinpoche’s instructions to me and remaining single, I am learning NOT to be selfish.

But you see, that instruction is only to me. For other people, Rinpoche encourages them to be in relationships, to devote themselves to someone else, to have a close person so they can learn to be generous.

And there you see it, another example of Rinpoche’s skilful means in teaching us non-duality – it is not selfish to be single, nor is it selfish to be in a relationship. It is what you make of it, it is your motivation (and then your resulting actions) which counts.

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