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

Real Happiness at Work

January 9, 2014 0

Meeting the author herself

Meeting the author herself

JP, Dato’ Ruby and I were fortunate enough to attend the launch of Sharon Salzberg’s new book today. Titled “Real Happiness at Work“, it guides the reader in meditations for finding peace and happiness in a place where most of us spend the vast majority of our lives, the office.

During the talk, Sharon invited us to entertain an interesting thought – what is the happiest moment we’ve ever had at work? I had trouble answering the question, not for lack of examples but because there are so many! Where do I start? Do I start with every time my lama tells me he treasures my contribution to the Dharma? Do I start with the time someone emailed me to say my words brought comfort to their mind? Do I start with the time I sat down, gave my spiritual path some clear thought and decided to become a nun?

I also thought about Sharon’s question in a different way – if your work is really your passion, is there ever just ONE happy moment? SHOULD it be limited to just ONE single Happiest Moment? And in designating one experience as being happier than all others, are we setting ourselves up to fail because in doing so, we are reaffirming a mode of existence based on dualities, delusions and comparisons? Yes, recognising the fact you have bad experiences is part and parcel of samsara BUT doesn’t focusing on a Happiest Moment lead to other problems? Perhaps we might even keep trying to top that Happiest Moment, hoping that another better, brighter experience will come along. And in that rush to top that Happiest Moment, we again fall into the same trap we were initially trying to escape – a projection of our expectations that the next moment might be THE Happiest Moment, and our disappointment when it turns out not to be the case.

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I haven’t read Sharon’s book yet so I can’t say for certain if she answers my questions there, BUT I am very sure someone of her experience, knowledge and wisdom will have considered my amateurish thoughts and put the answers down on paper.

At the end, we had the great pleasure of meeting the author herself and presenting Kechara’s books to her. JP explained who we are and why we were there, and that the books were written by Tsem Rinpoche. She was very gracious and accommodating, taking the time to speak to us and listen although she had to hurry off to her book signing.

At the book signing, I told her I’m going to become a nun and she said she was very happy for me. I also told her that I could relate to her talk, especially when she had spoken about her initial shyness and great reluctance to teach. She was in her early 20s and someone had told her that she should teach. Although the opportunity to speak kept presenting itself, she could not bring herself to talk in public – it’s one thing holding one-on-one discussions and talks with people, and quite another thing leading an entire classroom full of students. In the end, she realised it wasn’t about her, but about the audience – if she had something to say, she should say it because who knows who it could help. So she started teaching about loving kindness, figuring that if she ran out of things to say, she could always break up the talk and ask her students to meditate!

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I told her I’d received similar instructions from my teacher and whilst I was receiving many messages from people seeking one-on-one counselling, I’d yet to take the leap into public teachings. She very kindly wished me luck and asked if I would be teaching in New York soon. I said I’m working on it and she told me that she hopes to see me teach soon o_O

The launch was a good experience, not only for the talk but because it gave us the opportunity to observe what spiritual New Yorkers are seeking, and how to convey the wisdom that we all have access to in Buddha’s teachings. If there is one thing I love, it is to witness how the manifestation of Dharma differs from environment to environment. What Sharon spoke about today is no different to what someone like Rinpoche would teach, but the words she uses, and her tone and manner…I can see how it would appeal to people who are looking for something practical, easily applicable, and nothing ‘threatening’ to the lives which they don’t really want to change all THAT much, but want to get a little something more out of. And there’s really nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, I’m going to a few gallery openings tomorrow to catch up with a friend and hopefully connect with artists and other creative types. I’m not someone who ‘gets’ art and have never fancied myself to be a particularly artistic person so it should be an interesting experience! Why not learn something new, and broaden my horizons and see what appeals to different cultures and subcultures? I hope to be able to write about it soon because we’ve got another busy weekend coming up, with a trip to DC to meet someone very special!

Sending you lots and lots of positive energy,

PJA :)

General, Parties and Events, Life in New York

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