...no one gets to come to the Thanksgiving table looking condescendingly at anyone else.
Aunt Agnes, who never seems to get her act together, and I are soul-sisters, both dragging our baggage along the path to Nirvana. I need Aunt Agnes as much as she needs me. An attitude adjustment makes all the difference. It is the beginning of humility -- and not just for Aunt Agnes.
But what about Uncle Fred, who loves to lob potshots across the table? Isn't returning the lob a more natural response than compassion? The Dalai Lama says, "Yes." Fight or flight is a basic instinct.
The trouble is we amp up the hostility, or get really good at nurturing it. When that happens, not only is my view of Uncle Fred distorted but I become a hostile person. Then I am lugging more baggage along the road to happiness. It could take hundreds of Thanksgiving dinners to get past this bad karma.
Gratitude, according to the Dalai Lama, is the cure to distorted vision. It is the attitude necessary to create nonviolence, not just between ourselves but within ourselves.
What's in this for the cooks? In our house, Thanksgiving is all about abundance. Forget the tofu-and-tomato sandwich. On this day, the food, the smells, the colors are rich and our plates overflowing. We suffer through shlepping, cleaning, slicing and dicing. Even buying the Thanksgiving meal at Safeway is only a partial cure for the frenzy that can put us into overdrive for days. Watch out Uncle Fred. What might the Dalai Lama say? How about, "Ommm..."?
Seriously, compassion begins at home. Be good to yourself. Forget the formalities.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama impressed his audience with his genuine love of life. Sometimes Buddhism and Eastern philosophies are mistakenly understood as a denial of the material world -- making our Thanksgiving excesses bad karma. Not true, says the Dalai Lama.
On the contrary, his message was that life in this world is our only chance for happiness. Happiness, after all, for ourselves and for the world, is the one thing worth wanting.
This might be the true mark of holiness, and what distinguishes the Dalai Lama: To completely inhabit this life, and to see every moment as full of promise and hope.
He taught us the essentials of nonviolence: Compassion. Humility. Interdependence. Gratitude. Living in the present.
A good recipe for a rich and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.
Hapy Thanksgiving !