An interesting thing happened on my way to the Dharma. I know the power people put on the meaning of words( I am a writer of course). I understand defining things is how people make decisions and asset risk and other things during the course of their lives. But I also know the dangers of a cloudy perception based on the power many but on words and their meanings. I wrote a little about this in (check out That’s your Interruption here), which mentioned four words specifically but I’m gonna pull back the curtain on one in particular. I feel I need, again, to clarify what it means to be a Buddhist.
Clearly, I am not speaking for all Buddhist but I’m sure many of tired of the same connotations others want to push on us. It’s thought that because we are Buddhist we don’t get angry, we don’t start drama, we don’t feel pain or sorrow, and we are just so Zen and Hippie-esk. Many are able to have more control over their emotions and mind but Buddhism is a journey, and while some don’t get angry, start drama, and are laid back; it’s not to say they won’t have a moment when their practice can’t take them away from those negative seeds and they go with what the moment requires to them. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t true Buddhist. It means they are living and get to continue to grow. It’s a good thing.
But really, I get angry when people see my Zen for weakness. In the early stages of my practice, I decided to revert back to my suffering mind when faces with personalities that wanted to take advantage of my practice. They thought I would always show generosity, even when it was clear I was being used. They thought I would always stay pleasant and amiable; even with I was being pushed aside and shown hostility and rage. Anyone who knows me knew they were wrong. In those days, I did clap back, showing them I may be Buddhist, but I’m no one’s doormat. These days, I understand I don’t have to do that but educating others is still part of my DNA.
My Buddhist practice won’t have me be a doormat, and because of my practice, I have learned not to clap back the way I used to. I am a teacher at my core. I train people at work, I give guiding advice when called upon (sometimes it’s unsolicited but I’m working on that), and I try to teach myself something new weekly. It’s the journey of life I’m after and I will continue to do it on my terms. I understand I am in for more narrow roads, more detours, and more backtracking that others, but I am prepared to accept what comes with this journey of mine. I am prepared even for some of these misguided associations in regards to my spiritual path. I gather to think most Buddhist practitioners are, but it doesn’t mean I should give everyone else a little bit of wisdom that I have acquired.
Buddhist are people and for me, a good Buddhist won’t run away from the feelings and emotions of the moment. As Buddhist, it’s important to recognize and understand the source of the negative seeds, as well as put for intent to end what isn’t being an end to suffering. When we get judgemental, when we get high and mighty, and when we ourselves get stuck in playing the peacemaking, all love human creation, that is when we ourselves are sowing discourse and the image of the doormat Buddhist.
To that end, I recommend listening to the energy around and using wisdom to correct these inaccurate perceptions when the situation allows for it. Some won’t want to accept what you are dishing out. Some want they’re Buddhist always saying yes and breaking their neck to please others. If those behavior works for that Buddhist practitioner than I am pleased for them. I ask when dealing with me, see me and accept what I am presenting. I don’t present doormat status but I still present love, hope, and kindness. I took the time to work on those skills and will continue ( I still clap back at some).
If you feel as though because you define yourself as a Buddhist, you are seen as weak and easy to manipulate? Do you feel tested purposefully because of your spiritual journey? Share your story in the comments and let’s talk about it. Let’s create a new online Sangha.