“May I take defeat upon myself
And offer them the victory”
Hello loves! ❤
I hope you’re having a beautiful day!
On Valentine’s Day this year I attended a Love retreat at a Buddhist Center here in Philadelphia. It was a series of four classes on Love, each class was 45 minutes long, a lecture and meditation on Love, compassion, and kindness. Universal Love was the topic; universal love is all encompassing love. Completely unconditional love. Love for our friends, family, pets, strangers,insects, rodents, flowers, all sentient beings, enemies, assholes, difficult people…Love for everyone. Love can be an affective feeling, a warm, positive feeling for someone but it’s also just a selfless, genuine wish for someone else to be happy With or without us, even if that someone is a person we view as a difficult person who we don’t have a warm affection for or a positive opinion of. That’s universal love, a wish for everyone to be happy no matter what. We can still want people to be happy and well (in a way that is not at the expense of others in a negative way) even if we don’t like them. It’s not always easy. It can be extremely difficult. It may take much work, thought, reflection, practice, and meditation to get to that point that we generally want even people we don’t like or ones we’re angry at, even difficult people who want nothing more than to see us fall, to be happy. But it can be done. Sometimes those thoughts and feelings may come very easily to us but sometimes we really have to try hard.
Eventually it can become our general way of life. There may be setbacks, relapses, occasions now and then we want nothing more than to tell someone off, yell at someone, seek revenge, give someone a disgusted look to get a subtle point across without being too dramatic, or just hope bad things in our heads…but generally, with practice, we can cultivate an attitude of Universal Love.
The Love we were lectured on and meditated upon is completely, pure, raw, selfless Love. Ultimate, unconditional Love. With absolutely no expectations of anything in return.
Even when someone else is being selfish, unkind, uncaring, rude, vicious…we can genuinely wish that person the best whether out loud or just in our heads, speak with a calm tone, be kind. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it seems near impossible but with practice, it can be our Way.
And even if we choose to terminate a relationship with someone, it can be in a positive/productive way. We can lovingly let go, end on positive terms even if that person is not being loving or positive. On our part, it can be loving.
Some of the life lessons we learned during the retreat are:
1.) Offering the Victory and accepting defeat upon ourself (“ourself” as opposed to “ourselves” means people in general, like universally, as opposed to a specific group of multiple people such as a specific family or room full of people…- I just learned this! Lol :-O) even when we know we’re right and others are wrong, to be completely selfless and let go of self cherishing – self cherishing in this case means putting ourself, our own needs and desires(even seemingly reasonable needs and desires) above others. Sometimes we know for a fact that someone else is wrong and being selfish, rude, unkind and we may have the urge to lash out, argue, be defensive, be rude back, give someone a dirty look or just think negatively in our heads…but it’s possible to get into the habit of offering those people the victory, show them love, let them be “right,” maybe even say sorry just to keep the peace and love around us. Not out of fear of confrontation or what they’ll think of or do to us if we don’t give in, or low self esteem or being weak or fake, but out of love, a genuine desire to make the world a better, more loving place. It takes a certain kind of strength to do this but it’s very worth it. It’s more important to be loving than to be right.
It’s so tempting to meet someone’s negativity and rudeness with our own negativity and being rude back. It’s often temporarily satisfying to put people in their place or curse them in our heads or out loud but it accomplishes nothing in the long run. It just puts negative energy out into a world where there’s already enough.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because you do, say, think selfish things does not make you a bad or even necessarily a selfish person. And it’s something that can be changed if you want to change it. If not, that’s ok too. The teachers of universal compassion and love and selflessness, Buddhists, and monks are not being negatively judgmental just as I am not being judgmental. Universal Love is about acceptance, even acceptance of people who are not being loving and people with drastically different views than our own, opposing views, polar opposite views. Some views and religions are incompatible with one another but the people who hold those views do not have to be incompatible with each other.
We can not agree with people, not like what they think or do but still love them and show compassion and kindness.
I’m putting this into practice more and more each day. I’m not perfect at it. Sometimes it’s so hard. Every single day I am faced with a situation, as are most of us probably, whether very trivial or more serious, where I can choose to put my own needs above someone else’s or accuse someone of being wrong. Sometimes the person really is wrong, sometimes it’s me who is really wrong, but no matter which of us is, I make it my ultimate goal to lovingly accept the defeat upon myself and offer the victory, each day.
On many occasions, it’s hard and some occasions I suck at it and act selfishly, some moments I give into selfishness knowing I’m acting selfishly, other occasions I’m not aware right away that I’m being selfish, but on others it’s much easier. And the more I practice, the easier it becomes. I’m still not perfect at it, I may never be. But my ultimate intention is pure.
For many people it’s difficult accepting defeat or admitting they’re wrong even when they are, so imagine how difficult it is accepting defeat, apologizing, letting others be “right” when you know you are right or they are definitely wrong, especially when they’re being rude and negative. But it makes the world a better place. Imagine if we all, or even just many of us choose to accept defeat upon ourself and let them be right whether or not they really are! The world would be so loving! Totally worth it! And our actions and love will likely inspire others to become more loving.
But it’s important to not let it wear you out, always letting yourself be defeated and others be right. You have to get your mind in the right state, train it to happily, lovingly accept defeat upon yourself and offer them the victory. Many people complain that they put others first constantly and it takes a toll on them, that they don’t get credit for the positive things they do, that they get walked all over, taken advantage of, give too much, are too kind and want to stop being so kind to those who “don’t deserve it….”
But that’s because they aren’t properly training their mind to do all this with no expectations in return, in a completely selfless way. They are being loving and kind but still expecting something of others or the world, that they aren’t getting, in return. They expect others to be sweet and friendly and helpful just because they are that way. But the world doesn’t work that way. And when their own loving compassion isn’t met with the compassion of others, they feel cheated, worn out, broken, like it’s unfair. But universal love, accepting defeat and offering the victory is about being loving, compassionate, and kind irrespective of whether we receive that in return. Love to love, not to be loved. It’s fantastic to be loved. But being loved isn’t the goal, the goal is to love. Whether the love is returned or not. To love is more important than to be loved. The solution isn’t to stop loving or caring for those who “don’t deserve it” but to build up our minds so we are not buffeted by the unpleasant circumstances we are in sometimes or the negativity of others.
To accomplish this, we have to meditate, reflect, practice and get to the point where we can give, give, give, get nothing out of it, be kind and not receive kindness in return, but still not feel worn out and wronged. Instead we feel even more energized and exhilarated. And even if we don’t receive the love and kindness of others, our own love we unleash onto the world and in our own minds is enough.
Again, we love to love, not to be loved. For this to become our Way and not just happen occasionally, it takes a certain kind of meditation. It must be done properly to be effective and not mess up our minds. I’m going to share the information for the book on training the mind in this here post, later towards the end. I’m nowhere near qualified to teach people to train their minds and that’s not what I’m doing here. Not only am I not a teacher, I myself do not yet have my mind trained much. So I’m in no position to teach others. I’m in the process of training my mind, which unless I attain full enlightenment, will be an ongoing process. But even short of reaching full enlightenment, it is extremely beneficial to just reach some stages. I’m just giving suggestions and sharing my own stories and struggles and experiences.
Sometimes I am so tempted to “self cherish” and want what I want above what someone else wants. Even “reasonable” selfishness is good to avoid.
Here is a real life example when I was so so so tempted to self cherish and be selfish and put my desires or needs above someone else’s. But I chose to offer the victory instead.
Recently I was at home one night, on a wonderful cold, frigid, Winter night in Philadelphia, drinking hot tea, in my pink winter pj’s, warm on the sofa with a snowstorm going outside, all warm and cozy and sweet. I was sickly and in pain in my right kidney – something that happens quite frequently. I’m prone to kidney stones and what I think are (mild) infections. But I was very content. My sister decided she wanted to go out for ice cream. I really did not want to but my sister wanted me to go. I was tempted to say no. To say I’m in my pj’s, in pain, I’m not going out. But I kept in mind the teachings of the Buddhist classes I been attending and my desire to more frequently put others first. I was never a horribly selfish girl, even before the classes and my interest in Buddhism, I often selflessly put others first, changing my plans, willingly putting myself out to the point I have been called a “fool” and “pushover” and other insults on multiple occasions by multiple people, but who isn’t selfish every now and then? Especially when others are wrong or rude or selfish? We often react similarly to that person, reacting with less than kindness or putting our desires first even if we are usually very kind and selfless. So I said ok I’ll go.
And at first I really wasn’t happy about it, I was reluctant. But determined to “fake it til I make it.” Keep practicing doing what I don’t want to do as long as it’s making others happy.
Not to be “a fake” but to practice acting more selfless to feel more selfless. To BE more selfless. Even if you aren’t happy putting yourself out to help someone else, as long as you aren’t helping just to get something in return, like a positive reputation or favor in return, you are still being selfless if it’s purely to help others be happy and help make the world a better place. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit disappointed once in a while. The fact that you put your own needs last even when it’s reluctant indicates that you are being selfless. Even though you are disappointed for you, you are still happy for others.
I want to help people be happy. Even if it means not getting what I want in other ways. Just helping others be happy so often helps me be happy even when I’m not getting my own way and am disappointed about it. But sometimes it’s harder to be happy when I’m not getting my own way. But I’m trying to be better.
I had to go to CVS to get a picture enlarged to give my friends of us in New York City together. We went for a fun trip a couple years ago and I bought the large photo. They did not want to spend the money. So they got pocket size ones. I got the larger one but lost it the next day. The other day I found the pocket size one I had and decided to get it enlarged as a gift for each of my friends. So I decided after getting ice cream with my little sister, we would go to CVS. And my sister said no! She said no! She wanted to just get ice cream and come home! I felt a pang of anger surge through me. I was so tempted to say “fucking seriously?! I’m agreeing to go out in a snow storm sick and in pain, getting all dressed for you and you can’t stop at CVS with me for two minutes just to scan a picture?!” I opened my mouth to speak then held my tongue.
That’s not the kind of woman I want to be. I want to help others even when they are not being very agreeable, even when they’re being selfish and unreasonable. If I would have said what I wanted to, that wouldn’t be terribly selfish. It’s actually quite reasonable. I was doing her a favor and it would have took less than 5 minutes to stop at CVS. But she did not want to do me the favor, stopping there with me. Even though it was reasonable selfishness it was still selfishness, self cherishing. Putting what I wanted (going to cvs) over what my sister wanted (just coming home). And I still don’t believe I would have been wrong to respond saying I really want to go to cvs.
And I wouldn’t negatively judge others who would say that. But I want to become completely selfless (like the Buddha) and always put others first but still being peaceful in my mind. I want to be this way because I want people to be happy, even those acting unkindly and selfishly, even ones who don’t return the favor. And I want the world to be better.
Even though this is, generally, my ultimate goal and truest desire, on certain occasions, it’s hard to live up to, difficult to not get caught up in the negativity or emotions of that specific occasion. It takes practice.
After I held my tongue I was still pissed. But I saw it as practice to become better and better. And I took advantage of this wonderful opportunity to practice. I thought about the Buddha’s teachings and the monk’s lessons in our classes and my meditations and the woman I aspire to be. And my anger eventually melted away. Even though I was still resentful for a while, at least the environment was still more peaceful and my sister was happy and everyone was happy. If I would have spoken up, expressed my displeasure, it may have relieved my own anger or annoyance a bit but she would have become infuriated or devastated (she’s very sensitive).
So holding my tongue was good even though I did not get what I wanted. And in the end, all the things I want won’t bring me as much peace and happiness as a peaceful, compassionate, selfless mind that puts others (family, friends, strangers, difficult people, even assholes….) first. My meditation and teachings help me so I can put everyone else first but not feel lowered, degraded, worn out. It’s a journey, a process, it will not always come easily. I will always have selfish intentions now and then but I will become a more selfless being with practice. Like I said, I have never been extremely selfish. But like many or most of us, I want what I want occasionally and I think it’s more important than what someone else wants sometimes and I try justify it by showing how it really is more important….but I intend to becomes less and less that way. I offered my sister the victory. I accepted defeat upon myself.
I’m not bragging. I’m using my own real example because I believe when people are open and honest and share their own stories, they are easier to take seriously. If I’m going to preach or give suggestions, it’s good to use a real experience of my own, right? And a genuine example, if I have one, is often better than an imaginary one I can make up in my head.
You can practice Love and selflessness every single day in very simple but significant ways. For example, when you’re walking in back of slowpokes, instead of thinking unpleasant thoughts like “I wish these people would just move already!, How selfish walking so slow when they know people are in back of them!, Assholes!”
I’m not innocent of these thoughts occasionally. I thought all of them at some points.
And actually during one of the breaks the very day of the retreat I found myself almost late for one of the classes in back of very slow people thinking “Move! Move! Move! I’m about to be late!” and not in a pleasant way. Lol And I caught myself and realized the irony of it.
We can instead think “I wish these people well, I hope they’re happy or become happy, I wish them health, joy, friendship, love…” it puts positive energy into the world and if nothing else, it gets you in a positive, loving habit and then you begin to act more lovingly also, unconsciously and consciously.
The Buddhist monk teaching our class most weeks, and the retreat, gave an example of someone going to Starbucks and asking for a latte and thinking how slow the worker is being and thinking “just hurry up with my coffee!” but instead we can think “Yeah! Pump it up! I hope he’s having fun pumping my coffee!” lol! Everyone burst out laughing! It’s funny but it’s true! Let’s hope the workers are having fun or are peaceful and happy or at the very least, not suffering.
And when our pet chews the sofa or our shoes, think how much we love him/her instead of being destructively furious. It can be so hard but with practice, it’s possible.
For many of us, no matter how loving and positive we are even to strangers, we probably almost never even think to hope the person making our coffee is feeling happy pumping the coffee, or the person who cuts us off in traffic is well, or the pizza delivery man is healthy, or the person who writes us an incredibly rude comment online feels loved today and always….those are incredibly small (but significant) things we completely do not think to do no matter how loving we generally are. But they help significantly. Us and everyone around us.
Soon we begin to exude love and compassion and positivity.
Outside the Buddhist Center, after the classes, I saw a man crossing the street, walking a dog, and he was almost ran over by another man in a car. I don’t know which one was in the wrong, I wasn’t paying attention, but they both did not handle it well. The one man beeped the horn much longer than necessary. The one man yelled “watch where you’re going asshole!” and the other yelled “suck it you fucking asshole!” and the other responded “not on your life, asshole!”. And they both gave each other vicious looks and the one walking with the dog flipped the one in the car off. I couldn’t stop laughing because first of all, again with the irony, outside a Buddhist Center where they preach nothing but Love and on the day of a Universal love retreat! And because how they both just kept yelling “asshole!”
Lol I probably shouldn’t be so amused but I am!
2.) Mindfully focusing on all the kindness and love we have been shown since we came into the world, the love and kindness shown by family, friends, teachers, animals, strangers…
We are alive today and much of where we are is because of the love and kindness of others either directly targeted at us or indirectly. Since we came into the world we have been shown kindness and love. Even in the simplest, smallest ways but are still significant.
The doctors and others who took care of you and your birth mother before you were born, took care of you and your unborn children, your family who kept you alive and safe, your friends you had in and out of school growing up, who taught you things, your teachers, professors, instructors, the law enforcement officers who keep our communities safer, the people who grow/make our food, doctors and nurses, cashiers in stores, government workers, janitors who keep our buildings clean, fast food workers who serve us, strangers who showed us random acts of kindness throughout the years…
During the meditation, I was surprised at the emotions that welled up in me when we were meditating on this concept. While I felt warmth, love, gratitude, joy, happiness, inspiration, awe, I also experienced guilt, contrition, awkwardness, sadness, embarrassment, grief about all I have been overlooking all these years, completely disregarding. As grateful and reflective as I often am, I still overlook, ignore, close my eyes to so much. But this retreat awakened me even more.
At some points during the meditation, it was difficult to focus, too painful, too awkward, too uncomfortable ,at some points, I felt so small, but I once read that the best teachers bring us to ruin, instead of having his/her students clapping and cheering, s/he has them in silent awe, mouths gaping open in disbelief, astonishment, heads held low in embarrassment, remorse, guilt at all they have been ignorant of. These aren’t the words that I read but the same concept. I’m paraphrasing, capturing the sentiment. And it’s what I felt during the classes.
I invite you to try this activity. Just sit or lay in a quiet place or listen to some gentle, wordless, music and reflect on and feel gratitude for all those who have shown you kindness and love, even the ones you never met, the people who grow/make the food to be sold in
stores, your family and all the things they have done for you through the years, your friends, acquaintances, pets, neighbors, strangers you remember who showed you love in some way, the doctor who was your biological mom’s when she was pregnant with you, the persons who safely delivered or assisted in delivering you when you were born, your ancestors who all led to you, singers, celebrities who inspire you, all of the people in this life who help you or have helped you in any way no matter how seemingly simple or small.
We are also encouraged to think of and give thanks for those we haven’t yet met but will meet in the future. Future best friends, coworkers, family members, future children, strangers we’ll meet at a Busstop, walking up the street, a new neighbor who may move in near you and become like family to you, the employees in restaurants and cafes we will go to, future lover/s, there are infinite opportunities waiting to unfold for us to meet various kinds of beautiful people. And experience many more beautiful things. This brought and still brings me so much hope. To think of all those people and all those experiences and opportunities that are still to come to me, tomorrow, next year, in twenty years and more….
Think of and give thanks for all these people and animal friends and experiences who bless and will bless your life.
And let us give thanks for all our blessings.
Also let’s remember to accept defeat upon ourself and offer the victory to them. Even when we know without a doubt that we are right and they are wrong. Love is more important than being right.
You may think “why should *I* be the one to give in?” We have control over our own selves, not others. It’s up to them to decide what to be and up to each one of us to decide for ourself.
I hope you choose to be all that you can be in each moment. You probably won’t always live up to that goal but on many occasions you will and that’s fantastic.
We will have setbacks and succumb to selfish ways again and again. We will expect things that others will not do for us, we will cherish ourself and ignore the needs and desires of others, we will be ungrateful, angry, and negative sometimes because we are not fully enlightened. And that’s ok. We can just be as loving as we can and when we fall, gently remind ourself that love is the Way.
When we keep putting others first over and over and being kind to people being rude, we will very likely still feel annoyed or angry even if we don’t act on it. That’s ok. Eventually we will be better and better at putting others always first while still feeling happy and pleasant about it.
3.) And remember to view each unpleasant encounter with someone as an opportunity to practice becoming more loving, more patient. It’s a habit that must be maintained to keep it going. It’s an ongoing journey. Practice, practice, practice. Challenging encounters are a good thing.
“No one ever learns to be a great driver by just driving upon a straight road.”
4.) “It is like a diamond, like the sun, and like a medicinal tree.”
That is to say that when we train our minds by following the instructions of Geshe Chekhawa’s text on being more compassionate, loving, kind, meditative, offering the victory, accepting defeat, any little thing we do is good. Even if it’s just a sliver of what he teaches. When a diamond is cut into little pieces, every fragment, even the most microscopic piece, is extremely valuable. Geshe Chekhawa’s text is best when practiced as a whole, but like a broken diamond, even the smallest part is extremely valuable. Priceless are his teachings, even when only part is followed. Sunlight completely dispels all darkness but even just a few beams of golden sun provide some light. If we practice his full text, we completely dispel all of our darkness of ignorance but just engaging in some parts of the practice is incredible. Even just one moment you choose kindness as opposed to lashing out, it is like a beam of sun. Beautiful.
And just as every part of a medicinal tree (roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit) provides medicine, so every part of the instructions on training the mind provide insight, relief, invaluable information to us.
Every word of his is infinite wisdom.
And you don’t have to be a Buddhist or plan on becoming one to incorporate some Buddhist views such as these, into your world. Even if you have another religion, universal love is compatible with it.
I purchased a book at the retreat called “Universal Compassion” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who is the teacher of the monk who teaches our class. I love his books and have many. This is the book I mentioned above on training the mind to be completely selfless but still completely happy and peaceful in general. It is a beautiful and practical book that helps us train our brains to be all that we can be.
Geshe Chekhawa’s teachings are mentioned there. It’s based on his wisdom.
These are just some of the things I learned during the retreat and practice, meditate upon in class every week and at home during my meditations and everywhere I go. I’m so thankful I attended and have awakened to so much wisdom and experienced amazing things during meditation and lectures. It’s amazing to be surrounded by people who have similar goals and interests as me. I hope I can remember and share bits of wisdom I learn each week/day and share it along with my own experiences and struggles, to help others.
Links on Metta(universal love):
This page, below, has free mp3’s for songs and meditations/guided meditations about love & compassion.
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved.
Xoxo Kim ❤ ❤