The latest thoughts from my friend and student, Susan, as her path continues to open up.

I’ve been meeting so many new people over the past six months. Something has shifted in the process. There was a time when my conditioning forced me to put everyone into a "category." Wealthy, poor, challenged, knowledgeable, clueless. We all do it every day. However, I notice that although my ego still tries to identify with these labels, the true Light is slowly filtering in.

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at a local Buddhist temple. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I found out I would be spending the day with a rinpoche visiting from India and the temple’s lama. I noticed how people showed the upmost respect by bowing to these teachers, including myself. I felt honored to be in their presence, wondering what I could learn from them as if wisdom was just out of my reach. It is to no surprise that I have been feeling this way, since I am at times still finding myself looking to an outside source for answers instead of within. What a challenging but welcoming learning process this has been for me.

As the day went on I noticed I became more relaxed and less inhibited by my ego. However, a question kept coming to my mind. Why do we treat everyone differently? Why do we not talk to our family with the same tone of voice as we do with our friends? Why don’t we treat our friends with the same thoughtfulness as we do for strangers? Why do we put labels upon everything, including ourselves? Why don’t we realize that everyone we meet is our teacher instead of a handful of people? After the questions settled down, I found a profound answer for myself: Understanding.

After two days of volunteering at the temple I spontaneously asked myself, "Why can’t I be a rinpoche?" I never thought I would be asking myself such a question. All these years of praying to a God that is something outside of me when in reality, He has been inside me all along. God creating me is proof enough that He lives within me. I realized I was starting to understand myself. I finally understood that I have the same Knowing as a rinpoche; I just haven’t cultivated it fully.

This understanding has allowed me to be my true self when speaking with others. I’m less afraid to be myself in all situations with all people. If people are intimidated by my personality or don’t like how I am always silly, then that is for them to hold onto, not me. I realized I am tired of putting filters up when speaking to others. Our conditioning has programmed us to know when it’s appropriate for our professional, silly, compassionate, or happy voice. Have you ever seen someone walking around the office smiling, but you can tell they are anything but happy? I’m not condoning anyone to walk around their workplace cursing their peers when they are having a bad day. All I am saying is to be yourself and understand your ego as well.

I then started to realize that the more I understand myself, then I can start to understand others, especially when one or both of our egos feels threatened. This has helped me to stay in the present moment during difficult situations. Of course, I use every day to practice. I’m better on some days than others. It all goes back to understanding myself. When I’m not doing so well at being in the present moment, I need to understand that.

I realize understanding also means to be compassionate with myself. If I’m compassionate with myself then I can be compassionate with others and, in turn, understand them. Once we all understand each other there will be no need to put each other into categories. It is all a beautiful cycle. I never knew how important it was to understand..... until now.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.


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