The talk tonight was about memories. A female Buddhist monk visited our temple Sunday, something I missed, and she spoke of memories and how we sit with them and how memories are usually seen as a record, but in fact they are not. If in fact you were to ask a family about a particular holiday everyone’s memory would tell a different tale. Bhante spoke about how we can take a memory and relive it over and over allowing all the emotions that come with it to come up over and over. When in fact it is over, it is done and we are recreating our version of a moment and choosing to experience it as our present over and over. It can be great if it is a happy memory but even then it isn’t truth.
The key with memories is to see them from a perspective as how we ourselves played a role in the memory and how we could make our actions to be not harmful. In doing this, we can use our memories to strengthen and grow us in our present. It makes me think of one of my own keiki being harmful to one of their siblings and I thought to myself, “Why do they act this way when they know they are being hurtful?” But what stopped me was that it brought back a memory of me doing the exact same thing to my sister when we were younger. I had previously seen myself as blameless but here in remembering I saw my role and how harmful I was. That same day I contacted my sister and apologized.
Life is like that. We have to connect to the present continually. If we don’t then we get lost in the emotions of the past and the anxiousness and fear of the future. Tonight I stood in temple speaking the little Spanish I knew to a father and son visiting the temple for the first time, all the while surrounded by the Sinhala language and the gongs being played while sipping a cup of tea…being in the present was so surreal. I was connected so deeply with these people creating a memory that could serve me later when examined. But to think of that was too much and instead I breathed and just connected with those I came in contact with and even agreed to making paper lanterns, a crafty project I usually loathe, and being a part of singing the chants as part of a festival. In opening myself I lived in a moment.