September 6, 2014

Dear Pema. (The Letter I’m Probably Never Going to Send.) ~ Davin Sauer

2014 Naropa Graduation

Dear Pema Chodron,

I want to put my head in your lap and cry.

I imagine it vividly these days, the same way I imagine that my cheating (hopefully reformed cheating) boyfriend has become a devoted Buddhist, with years of arduous Zen retreats under his belt, a shaved head, and a smile that is relaxed and realized.

Considering the fact that neither of these fantasies is likely to happen, this letter will have to do. And you may be the only person who understands me. Okay, that’s not true, but I live in a very non-Buddhist world with a lot of f*cked up individuals—freakin’ Leos and Aries people surround me for god’s sake. These people would devour their young if they could.

All jokes aside, I need your help.

I am failing. You are probably used to people saying they have failed at life, I mean that’s why so many of us are drawn to the spiritual practice, but I’m failing at the practice.

I’ve taken your advice to watch my triggers, to observe my propensity to be angered, jealous or irritated. Now that I’ve taken time to watch, something seems to find me each and every day. As you warned, there’s never a shortage, and just because I’m becoming more skilled at observing the trigger, does not mean I will choose to refrain from the non-harming course of action. Nope. I’ve become quite intimate with my triggered, propensity towards anger.

Yesterday I strained my sternocleidomastoid muscle (that big one on both sides of your neck) from screaming so loud at my formerly cheating boyfriend. Not former boyfriend, formerly cheating.

So I should probably get to that, and ugh, where does one begin? People can change right? Secretly I think only a well-trained Buddhist can, but I’ve given him a chance anyhow. I’ve got some killer intuition, the same killer intuition that led me to catch his cheating ass. This same intuition tells me he’s made some changes, there have been some shifts. Regardless, every, single, day I question him. I nag, and cry and lose my sh*t.

I watch myself and each time I try to refrain from sending the text or beginning the interrogation, I literally get short of breath and begin to sweat. I’ve tried going in the bathroom and counting to 20, but when I come out my mind comes back stronger than ever and I tell myself, this one last time something needs to be said. This time is different. I have to speak up because if I don’t I’ll be walked all over. Or it could happen forever, or I’ll miss a clue, a sign that could indicate the rest of my life is f*cked.

I mean given my genetic/spiritual/emotional propensity for balls-to-the-wall rage how can one really be expected to practice? This is the f*cking charnel ground right? You know the place you spoke about with the dead body parts, arms, legs, eyeballs everywhere? I ain’t’ got it in me Pema. I’ve tried. I just lose it at the cost of my SCM, voice, stomach, relationship and spiritual practice. This moment deserves a frownie. 🙁

I joke and try to even entertain you a little here Pema, but I’m honestly discouraged and desperate. This is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. And I’m lucky right? I’m lucky to have such amazing material for spiritual growth (and letters to Pema).

But I’ve made no progress. I watch, and watch. A cat in the window, but less relaxed, more rabies ridden. This isn’t the small stuff I’m practicing with, and on top of the looming threat of betrayal is the looming proof of my failure to control my emotions again and again, my inability to refrain.

I’ve taken to blaming things on my bike propped up in the doorway, f*cking with the feng shui for sure, Mercury in retrograde or the full moon. Because people get this right at least once, but not me. I’ve got to send the text, ask the question, use words the way I use them, cutting, splicing and dicing. Living out loud, as my therapist puts it.

So, what do I do? Perhaps this isn’t the practice for me? If you get a chance, from your busy schedule loving everyone, could you please give me some advice?

The girl who has yet to refrain (or present you with an original problem, I realize),




Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Editor: Travis May

Photos: Shambhala Times

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