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Lions Roar : September 2013
present moment, even after decades of meditation. Years back, I took a trip alone with my granddaughter, who was six years old at the time. It was such an embarrassing experience, because she was being extremely difficult. She was saying “no” about every- thing, and I kept losing it with this little angel whom I adore. So I said, “Okay, Alexandria, this is between you and Grandma, right? You’re not going to tell anybody about what’s going on? You know, all those pictures you’ve seen of Grandma on the front of books? Anyone you see carrying around one of those books, you do not tell them about this!” The point is that when your cover is blown, it’s embarrassing. When you practice meditation, getting your cover blown is just as embarrassing as it ever was, but you’re glad to see where you’re still stuck because you would like to die with no more big surprises. On your deathbed, when you thought you were Saint Whoever, you don’t want to find out that the nurse completely pushes you over the wall with frustration and anger. Not only do you die angry at the nurse, but you die disillusioned with your whole being. So if you ask why we meditate, I would say it’s so we can become more flexible and tolerant to the present moment. You could be irritated with the nurse when you’re dying and say, “You know, that’s the way life is.” You let it move through you. You can feel settled with that, and hopefully you even die laughing—it was just your luck to get this nurse! You can say, “This is absurd!” These people who blow our cover like this, we call them “gurus.” No Big Deal The fifth and last quality regarding why we meditate is what I call “no big deal.” It’s what I am getting at when I say we become flexible to the present moment. Yes, with meditation you may experience profound insight, or the magnificent feeling of grace or blessing, or the feeling of transformation and newfound cour- age, but then: no big deal. You’re on your deathbed, and you have this nurse who’s driving you nuts, and it’s funny: no big deal. This was one of the biggest teachings from my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche: no big deal. I remember one time going to him with what I thought was a very powerful experience from my practice. I was all excited, and as I was telling him about this experience, he had a look. It was a kind of indescribable look, a very open look. You couldn’t call it compassionate or judgmental or anything. And as I was telling him about this, he touched my hand and said, “No . . . big . . . deal.” He wasn’t saying “bad,” and he wasn’t saying “good.” He was saying that these things happen and they can transform your life, but at the same time don’t make too big a deal of them, because that leads to arrogance and pride, or a sense of specialness. On the other hand, making too big a deal about your difficulties takes you in the other direction; it takes you into poverty, self-denigration, and a low opinion of yourself. So meditation helps us cultivate this feeling of no big deal, not as a cynical statement, but as a statement of humor and flexibility. You’ve seen it all, and seeing it all allows you to love it all. ♦ Five Reasons to Meditate continued from page 56 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 81