One morning after spending the night at [my friends] Rand and Rob's, I sat perched upon the grassy knoll just above the little house that served as Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa's abode. Lama Yeshe pushed open his door, toothbrush in hand and towel draped across his arm, heading for the bathroom on the other side of the house. For a brief moment he paused, looked up at me piercingly, and before continuing his journey, said, "Living with pride and humility in equal proportion is very difficult, isn't it? Very difficult!"
It is the trauma of slavery that haunts African Americans in the deepest recesses of our souls. This is the chief issue for us, the issue that must be dealt with head-on--not denied, not forgotten, not suppressed. Indeed, its suppression and denial only hurt us more deeply by causing us to accept a limiting, disparaging, and at times even repugnant view of ourselves. We as a people cannot move forward until we have grappled in a serious way with all the negative effects of this trauma. With just a glance that morning, Lama Yeshe had captured my heart's dilemma: How to stand dignified, yet humbly, in the world?
I was soon to discover that Tibetan tantric Buddhism offers tools to help with this dilemma, for it provides methods that show both how to get at those deep inner wounds and how to heal them. One method, for example, employs the meditative notion of divine pride. According to this theory, we are all inherently pure, or divine, at our cores. Our task is to realize this truth.
There is, of course, a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. Belief in one's own innate purity and power can easily be confused with an all-too-human pridefulness. The consequence of understanding this crucial distinction, and of thereby going astray, is the creation of more suffering rather than the elimination of it. Hence the great need for a true and authentic guide on this most important journey of discovery. This fact was brought home to me personally and powerfully in the ensuing weeks.
|I would finally get to be with the wisdom-being, the master teacher I wanted and deserved. Surely, pride goeth before the fall.|