I wish I ate less cake

btyChasing after an improved view of oneself is futile. ~ Dharmavidya

Yesterday I finally managed to fill my two little vases with flowers from the temple garden – one for the Buddha, and one for the little table between me and my therapy clients.

It makes me happy looking at them. I also feel a smudge of shame – that it took me until the end of June to perform this simple ten minute task which lightens my whole working week.

I’ve been reading and re-reading a chapter from Questions in the Sand called ‘To Err is Human, and We Do Not Stop Being So’. In it Dharmavidya suggests that, rather than self-improvement, we should be aiming towards ‘a diminution in self-concern’. We may well change in a positive way over time, but we can’t force these changes – they are more a by-product of living in the light of the Buddhas. If we imagine we can perfect ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for a miserable time. To err is human, and we do not stop being so.

I do wish that I was the kind of person who found it easier to look after herself by gathering flowers for her office. I wish I didn’t turn into a frightened child when my pets are ill. I wish I was more patient with people, and had more capacity to welcome them when I feel full of my own concerns. I wish I ate less cake.

I’m not. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get tired of tracking what I eat or making judgements about how much television I watch, and my attention drifts back to the world. I get on with stringing words into rows, with slicing avocados for our lunch, and with sweeping the floor. I pay attention to what’s around me. Here is my shrine, with the beautiful icon I brought back from my holitreat. Here is what the garden gifted me for my little vase. Those daisies are so cheerful. I smile at the name of those leaves with delicate pale fur – ‘lamb’s ear’ – and stroke them with my fingers.

The Buddhas can see me just as I am, and they love me. I feel a softening in me, a release, and now I am on the edge of tears.


You can read the short chapter from Dharmavidya’s book in its entirety here.