By Kristen Maciejowski
Samsara in Buddhism, very simply put, is the circle of life, death and rebirth.
The continual grasping and pushing away throughout this cycle is what Buddhists believe ultimately causes us suffering. The aim of Buddhism is to relieve not the pain of living per say, but the suffering inflicted by our inability to basically sit mindfully with the temporary nature of life. It is our instinct to try to hold on to and control everything around us.
Every time I start to feel I’ve got this concept down, the Universe gives me a real life scenario to practice it in.
This past weekend, I was tired after working all week, and my last day was a 15 hour shift. I went home to sleep for three hours and then got up to do it all over again. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not at my finest when I don’t sleep, so my patience was already a bit thin and old ways of critical thinking and controlling behaviour were starting to rear their ugly heads.
I was watching other people who were equally, if not more exhausted than myself, do their jobs in a scattered manner, which effected how my day went and I could feel my frustration growing. A few times I was asked to intervene and help, which I was more than happy to do, but I could see my feelings of resentment starting to boil up and dangerously close over.
This is the crux of the matter. I could see this entire shift of emotion happening within myself.
The judgmental, critical thoughts of others and the resentful feelings.
The frustration. The snappiness.
Woah, step back everyone. She’s gonna blow.
Finally, my higher and more aware self was able to get a word in edgewise.
I thought to myself, “I can try to control everyone and become more frustrated, or I can let it go.”
I decided on sanity, which meant letting the situation go.
I suppose I was doing a really poor job of hiding my feelings (or maybe the Universe was trying to give me a big thumbs up on my decision?) because just moments later, a colleague of mine echoed that exact sentiment to me. I could attempt to control everything around me and confuse matters or step back and let other people do what they are going to do.
What a smart cookie.
I am a perfectionist at heart. There is a more honest way to describe that trait, and it’s called being a control freak. I whole-heartedly accept it and am, ironically, working really hard to let that behaviour go.
I am so much better at going with the flow and letting life happen when I’ve slept and eaten and things are going okay, but when things are tough—well, that’s the ultimate test, isn’t it?
Approaching our own growth with compassion is necessary, but sometimes it’s really difficult to not feel disappointed in yourself when you’ve put the work in and you still react like a human being.
As a good friend said to me recently, “Oh you mean, you weren’t perfect?”
Nope. I still judge. I still try to control things. My awareness of my actions is much higher and I am much quicker to redirect my behaviour, but it will be awhile before I’m Buddha-like.
I know I’m compassionate towards other people although not all the time. I know I’m pretty open minded, although I still judge unfairly at times.
I wish I was better at this.
This whole being an imperfect human being really grates on my nerves sometimes.Therein lies the problem and conversely the beauty of self-development.
You’re never finished with it.
Kristen Maciejowski is a journalism student turned Art student turned academic nomad, she is currently adding Social Work to the list of programs that has piqued her interest. She tends to enjoy the company of her dog Celtic to most people, although there are a few certain humans she loves to snuggle up with, as well, usually whilst consuming a few pots of tea with, chatting about life, the Universe and other wondrous things. Yoga and Buddhist philosophy has changed Kristen’s life and helped her recover from herself.
Editor: Dana Gornall