Recently, I have not been inspired to write. In fact, I know the reason why. As the number of days have gone from single digits to the double digits since I’ve returned to “real life” from my four-month travel, I am realizing how easy it has been to fall into the cycle of negativity. I have worked hard every morning to set positive intentions and not allow the insignificant b.s. to get to me. The patience and compassion I cultivated during my time in Nepal, as well as the lessons drawn from Buddhism, have helped me cope with my tumultuous return to L.A. For example, I knew I was coming back to a subtenant conflict, who refused to pay rent. I kept my cool with her actions even when I was still there (as I got the notice in early December). She was not communicating with me and when she did, she threatened to stay past her lease period (and summon the police if I were to show up to my apartment). This is after she claimed she didn’t have hot water for 14 days and false plumbing expenses. Upon checking with all the tenants of my building and my landlord, I learned this was not the case. Moreover, she refused to call the three emergency numbers I had left for her in the case of such emergency. In short, with outright lies and deception, she took advantage of my kindness. I chose to not charge her a security deposit and accepted late payments during the first three months I was in Nepal. She claimed I was not accessible. However, my landlord, my father, and my friend were all available to her and lived only half a mile away. She was intentional in her harm doing and I had to accept the reality of it all. This meant coming back from Nepal and facing a heavy financial burden. I returned with no job or income and only a small savings meant to cover me for the month of January (which I had to use to pay her rent). This was my transitioning back into, quote unquote real life.
I could have dealt with this in two ways. The first and “normal” approach would have been from a place of anger seeking sweet revenge, a strategy suggested to me by many. However, my intention was and is not to reveal her identity or make life more difficult for her, especially because she has worked so hard to make a name for herself and is a public figure in the yoga world.
The second approach, which I learned from a monk through a conversation I had at the monastery when I first heard of the emergency , was to understand that she is suffering. The monk’s advice to me was simple. He mentioned how her kindness of paying the first three months actually permitted me to be right there in Nepal, where I needed to be, at that particular moment. Furthermore, on that same day we learned about the eight verses of training the mind from Geshe Langri Tangpa, which stated the following:
When someone whom I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
That verse couldn’t have come at a better time. But on that first evening of meditation, I had to visualize this woman and find forgiveness. I had to visualize that I’m taking her suffering and bringing it upon me. And after that, consider her my holy guru? But with time I did just that. I found forgiveness. I then got an email of her threatening to call the police if I show up to have a normal conversation with her. At this time, I had found other folks who have been conned by her and told me that this was her modus operandi. She disappears into a deep black hole and hopes for the best. I guess, it worked this time for her, as well.
Most, if not all, of Buddha’s lessons fundamentally lie in the four noble truths. In short, life means suffering. There are causes to suffering and the cessation of such suffering is possible. Finally, there is a path to cease (or reduce) this suffering. This is the cliff notes version is Buddhism. Of course we spend countless hours studying it in detail at Kopan Monastery.
I am not angry at her; I still am not. Of course, I could use a full month’s rent right about now, but money comes and goes. The value we put on money is so high that it truly becomes the root of our problems, conflicts, break ups, and death. This specific episode taught me a great lesson in regards to human character and the values we choose to lead our lives with; values that we do not all share equally. The greatest lesson taught was how I respond to the challenges I face in life. For the first time in my life, I dealt with a challenge without a great amount of mental turmoil.
As I further reflected on this specific situation, I realized that our most common, insignificant, and meaningless problems usually escalate because we do not have the tolerance and compassion to deal with each other’s conflicting perspectives in a healthy, compassionate way. The way I approached this has come off to some family and friends of mine as me permitting somebody to step all over me. Yes, in this situation it is literally taking a hold of one’s pride and ego and tossing it to the side. It is detachment of the ego, something that I have not been able to always let go of in my life. Whether I’ve dealt with this logically or correctly, might not be revealed ever. In fact, it doesn’t matter.
I am not going to lie. I did mention how recently I have not been inspired to write and caught myself on finding every excuse as not to write. So, there was clearly some unconscious mental turmoil going on, but I was able to catch on and be aware of it before it escalated. Well, I was justifying the fact that I had to hustle (literally sending applications daily, taking on any opportunity that comes my way and LYFT-ing) this month to make money, so I did not have any time to write. There is ALWAYS time. Then I came back to the reason why I started this blog in the first place. When I moved back to Los Angeles in 2014, writing, as well as many other things, became a therapeutic release, along with therapy and yoga. I reminded myself that it was so okay to fall off the wagon. We should just collect our sh*t from the ground, get back on that grind, and make it all better again. The more we live our life with doing virtuous actions filled with forgiveness, compassion, love and kindness, the more we realize that meaningless, transitory challenges are just that. They come and go. The stress they bring on to our mind though, just aggregates until we’re unable to deal with things in a healthy fashion. That said, I hope this story does not make you lose trust in the human goodness. I’d hope you can look at a challenge in your life and see how you can find forgiveness towards that person who might be causing you that harm. I, too, had moments where I questioned how a spiritual guide, a yoga practitioner, can do such a thing. But at the end of the day, she is a human being and she, too, can deviate from her true self. I wish her well and I hope she can find true happiness soon.
And, I take that back. That fellow yoga teacher was not able to “screw” with me (well maybe just a little). In fact, she made me stronger and more aware. I am truly grateful for all her lessons.