Most relevant to this blog, perhaps, is how I came to find Buddhism. I met a new friend by volunteering at an organization. He happened to be very active in a local Buddhist temple and invited me to join him one Sunday for a meditation/dharma talk. I responded very strongly to what I experienced at the temple and the rest, as they say, is history.
I met my long-term partner in a bar in Chicago. I was sitting there after dinner talking with a friend and commented on how there wasn’t anyone interesting there that night (yes, I know, very shallow, but this was pre-Buddhism). He said what about the guy sitting next to you. I hadn’t even noticed that someone had sat down next to me. I looked and said to him, “You’re right!” And proceeded to start a conversation and we were together for the next 12 years until he died of AIDS.
I met my best friend, who I’ve known for 20 years and have lived with for the past 8 years, because I happened to look at the Matches section of an independent newspaper in Chicago. I saw his ad and it drew my interest. We connected and have been very close ever since, becoming a loving family, fully committed to each other.
In the early 80s, I had been looking for a new job for quite a while. One day I looked at the want ads in the Chicago Tribune and saw an ad to which I responded and I got the job. It provided me with both the highest level professional experience and meaningful personal relationships that one could ever hope to find in a job.
These are just a few of the examples I could give. One might say regarding two of these examples, “Well, you had a plan to meet someone or find a job, and so one of the things that you did was read the newspaper ads.” That is true, but it was happenstance that I happened to look at the paper on that day and saw that ad, and that the ad had been placed.
We like to think that we have control over various external aspects of our lives. But we don’t. All we have control over is how we react to ourselves and the world around us. We can make plans, but we can’t control how they turn out because they typically depend on the actions or reactions of other people. Much of the frustration we experience in life comes from this desire to control our lives, and yet finding we don’t have that control.
When you have embraced all aspects of your being and experience (see my post, “The Heart’s Embrace”) and know that you have everything you need inside yourself to be at peace and happy, then the need to control your life fades away. Because you know that regardless what life throws your way, all will be well because you will always go deep inside yourself, return home to your true Buddha nature, your heart, and be at peace and happy.
When you realize that you have no need to have control over these external aspects, then you can accept and be grateful that major “progress” usually occurs through happenstance. Knowing of course that harmful things will happen by happenstance as well, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But again, regardless what life throws your way, you have faith you will be at peace and happy.