Bodhicitta in the Time of Asian Hate

I recently published my first piece for Tricycle magazine. To be honest, it’s been nerve-wracking as hell to have it out in the world! I worked at the San Jose Mercury News right out of college and wrote mostly high school sports stories for a few years, and I remember feeling lots of anxiety when those articles were published. Having this piece out there was a different level of anxiety, mostly because the piece is so naked and vulnerable. It’s hard enough to have your heart open, living with a spirit of bodhicitta moment-to-moment, day-to-day. It feels even harder to have your heart this out in the open to thousands of strangers reading your piece.

It is far from a perfect piece of writing. I haven’t read the piece since it was published because strangely enough, when I read things I have authored, it is hard to even believe it was I who wrote it. Buddhism has a lot to say about anatta or non-self as I’ve written elsewhere. It’s never quite been as clear to me what non-self means in practice as in writing this piece. This piece isn’t “me.” It speaks to dependent origination, one of the key teachings of the Pali text. The piece was written by some version of my consciousness at a particular moment when I was dealing with certain feelings and fears. And now that moment of consciousness has passed, and the piece is no longer “me.”

Anyway, there was one section that I liked of the piece, that I wanted to highlight here briefly. I hope you find some insight from it:

As I’ve worked with more and more patients over the years, I’ve realized how fragile people really areEven the most confident and successful of my patients are just one or two missteps from losing themselves into despair, anxiety, or depression. Yet many lack awareness and are terrified of opening up to any hint of this fragility. So with a spirit of bodhicittaI give my patients permission to fall apart. 

One of my jobs as a therapist is to help my patients realize that their depression, anxiety, and trauma are nothing to be ashamed of, but are rational reactions to the pains of the last year and a half, and also to existence itself. It is fine to be raw and vulnerable, and that when they are connected to that part of themselves, they are connected to the best, most compassionate part. When they can connect to the spirit of bodhicittaremarkable transformations can happen. 

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