Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to Treat Me (and other people): answering mail

n. to busy, important people. If you're too busy and important to answer mail, set up privacy barriers so that you don't get any.

And you can use the time you save by contemplating that you want this visible position, the fame or power, the book sales, but you don't want the little responsibilities that inevitably come waddling after any kind of success. I like to express this mathematically.
A > B

A (success) > (inevitably leads to) B (myriad demands from fans, students, readers, your kids). I'm sure someone who had more opportunities than I did could express the rest of it mathematically. It goes like this:
If you don't want B, avoid A.

Because A is going to expose you to those bothersome people who buy your books and attend your retreats, classes, whatever. I use this example, rather than business, but it applies there, too.

When I was much younger in Buddhist practice I was struggling, drowning here in the midwest, no authentic teachers anywhere around, and (I'm that old) no internet to help you out. I wrote a real letter to a famous teacher I had thrilled to sit with, whom I shall do the favor of leaving nameless, and waited. "I desperately need a teacher," I wrote. "I listen to your tapes, but that's not the same as working with a teacher. How do I find one here in Ohio?"

After a long time someone wrote back, a form letter with a signature scrawled by some human hand. The letter included a copy of the sangha newsletter (with all its fervent appeals for donations), and suggested I choose someone from its list of teachers. All in California. In other words, no one really read my letter.

I don't mind it so much when the White House does this to me. The President isn't in this to save souls, apparently. But those who teach compassion for every sentient being, who teach mindfulness at every step . . .

Eventually you do hook up with a teacher. He has an email address. Sometimes he answers a post, sometimes he doesn't. He's a Teacher, you think. Maybe there's a lesson in this.

Maybe so.

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