I yelled, threw it down onto the ground, and stormed off.
And it was one of the worst things I’ve ever done.
In November, 2012, I spent a month in Thailand near a Theravadin center of worship working in peace and serenity with rescued elephants. It was in the tiny village that I acquired two small Thai Buddhas, and I strung them onto leather strands—one for me and one for my lover.
I am not Buddhist, nor will I claim to know everything about the belief system, but I do empathize with many of the beliefs and I try to live with many of the intentions in mind as I go about my days. I am trying to learn, and slowly reading more and enabling myself to gradually understand it as a practice and culture.
However, one day, some stormy weather in the form of bold reactions and harsh words came through this mountain town and through my relationship. And now that it’s made its way through my mind, body and soul, I can look back on it objectively as part of who I am today.
A month ago I experienced some of the most terrible hurt and hardship in the fear of losing my relationship that I have ever felt in my life, and now I keep rethinking in my mind the things that made it that way, the things that made me hurt in such a deep way. One of the things that could have made it less painful is if I had reacted to the problems in a compassionate and loving way.
It wasn’t my fault, but I could feel the suffering of another as something I wanted to control. To have to leave and be alone and take all my stuff back to my own sacred space was something that hurt me, and when I was handed back my Buddha necklace, I reacted rashly and without thought. I thought to myself that that symbol of peace and love was bullshit. And I threw it on the ground in a passionate, immature rage. As much as I had a desire to chuck that Buddha necklace on the ground—as much as it meant to me to react in violence and the emotion of the moment—I should have held onto it and left the argument with grace. That desire I had is the exact thing that the Dharma warns us about.
You can’t throw away the things you hold close to you, and that includes people, relationships, love, happiness, peace, landscape, home, integrity, joy—don’t let any of those things go. If you throw these things away, you throw a part of yourself away as well.
That moment in time—the moment that I threw the Buddha necklace on the ground—is a moment that has turned into worlds. That single moment could’ve held so many possibilities; things could have been so different today if I had instead kept it in my hand tightly and given kisses and kind words instead of heat and anger—instead of abandoning and running. Instead of throwing and disrespecting an emblem that meant so much to both of us onto the ground, I could’ve tenderly gripped onto it and thought about what it meant. Transcendence. Compassion. Love.
I could’ve reacted with love, and that love would have continued to exist even into the current moment–regardless of the outcome of the relationship.
That little Thai Buddha taught me one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned. And today it hangs right next to its partner, the leather strand ripped but the gaze steady and unbroken.
I love you, and that’s something I will always hold on to.
ความรัก (khwām rạk)
Thai words for peace and love. เสมอ, always.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
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