“She’s got a light around her
And ev’rywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her ev’rywhere” ~ Billy Joel
On Saturday I attended a three hour workshop at the Buddhist center I go to and we made Buddhist malas! I’m going to write about those in another post. The workshop inspired me in so many ways.
Mala beads are beads on a string (similar to Catholic rosaries and ones found in other religions). They are used for recitation of positive mantras to calm or quiet the mind and just to get us in the habit of positive thinking/feeling and stillness.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” ~ Rumi ❤
One of the things that struck me and is the inspiration for this post is the instructor’s passion, wonder, and love for the topic of her teachings.
I met her before, her name is Eve, she’s a Buddhist. A lay Buddhist teacher/student. She’s very loving and friendly and funny too, and a musician!
Her love for her work or the way she conveys her love, to me, seems very rare. It’s like at every second she’s conscious of it. It reminds me of a professor I had in college, Dr. Ward. All of my professors/instructors, that I remember in college, showed interest, many even passion and love, for the work they were teaching and studying. That’s very likely why they were teaching and studying it. They have some sort of interest in or passion for it. Love and passion for work isn’t rare; there are many people who are absolutely in love with what they do. And unfortunately there are too many people who feel that their work is life draining and like it’s just a dead end job.
But Dr. Ward, a neuroscientist and my professor for some class about the brain, expressed her passion and love in a different way than I have ever seen before. It actually wasn’t even “expression” necessarily, what I remember is her BEING. Light. Her whole state of existence in the class was love for her subject.
It’s difficult to explain in words. And what I remember is a quiet but fierce kind of love for her work and the topic of Neuroscience. I would see her warmly smiling to herself often as she was writing on the chalkboard and just her movements displayed a kind of awe of her work and the topic.
Sometimes she would even shake her head and chuckle in wonder even over the bland-est of details and tasks.
A topic she was teaching over and over, studying year after year after year. It never got old.
I sensed that she loved/loves not just what she was teaching and studying but the very process of teaching and studying it, every word she wrote on the chalkboard, she wrote carefully, as if mindfully loving the process itself, not merely writing to get to the end, out of an obligation to teach us, or to get out of class as soon as possible. Not even like she was so into what she was doing, like some people can get writing quickly and passionately, she would write and teach as if she was mindfully taking in every moment and loving it.
She was cherishing everything involved. It is beyond just passion. It’s like complete adoration.
Almost the way a mother feels for her child. Have you ever seen a mom gently stroke her child’s hair or cheek and warmly smile? It’s a passionate, fierce kind of love but also very gentle. And everyone witnessing can feel that love just oozing into the breath of the world around. Or have you ever seen a photo of people, family, a parent/child, lovers, best friends, people and their pets and the photo captures love so well, it just IS love? The people/animals in the photos just ARE love…
In Dr. Ward’s class, I often felt that the topic of Neuroscience itself was almost something tangible to be gently and lovingly stroked by someone who completely adores and loves it.
It was like she brought it alive. Like her love for it manifested it into tangible existence. She seemed to regard it with reverence.
Neuroscience is definitely interesting in some aspects but it’s not my absolute favorite topic.
It can be kind of dry. I can hardly remember the details of nerves, synapses, brain parts and stuff.
It’s awe-inspiring for sure, the way the body works. I love to think and read about it. Some aspects are fascinating.
But I won’t be reading about it very frequently.
This subject is just not at the very top of my list of favorites, the way Philosophy as a whole topic is. Philosophy is my passion. My love. Not necessarily as a career/job goal but as a hobby to read and write about. And neuroscience involves philosophy.
Everything does. Philosophy is everywhere.
Also, the doctor and her colleagues did tests on animals, mostly rats, and sometimes they had to kill them, which they claimed was “humane” in the killing method they chose. And she said they weren’t suffering as a result of the brain experiments they did on them, they made sure they were as “comfortable” as possible.
Experimenting on and killing innocent rats, It’s not my cup of tea.
But I liked the class and her.
One of the only things that stands out to me about that class all these years later is the professor’s love for her work. Not just her love, like I said, most of the professors seemed to love their subjects, it was the way I noticed her love it. The way she would embody love. Just the way she loves. (This isn’t to say other people do not love their work and subject the same way and just as much, it’s just that some people’s existence just emits love & light either in general or for a specific thing, in a more noticeable way to some people. I was more receptive of hers for her work, maybe someone else would be more receptive of someone else’s. And there’s other aspects of life to be loving with than work, I meet many loving people in various aspects! )
That and the fact that she had/has a human brain collection in her basement and brought one in, along with a spinal cord, for us to hold. She’s a brain researcher, studying brains and the nervous system. I wrote about her and her brain collection here before. When they were through with the brains, she would keep them for her own amusement. Lol
The brain I held in my hands was beautiful in every way. In the way it looked, felt, in the way it worked when it was alive, in the way it still had purpose even after the woman’s death who once lived with that brain. And the spinal cord was beautiful as well, the color, the texture, the feel, the purpose it served to the living person and the purpose it served after the death of the person. I am extremely blessed that I got to hold them in my hands. Some students refused to touch them. It wasn’t required as part of the class, it was just for our own pleasure.
Dr. Ward’s love for her work seemed to me to go beyond mere interest, beyond passion, even. Like I said, just utter adoration and awe. It wasn’t the words she spoke but the way she moved, her tones, her gestures, and expressions. Her state of being. Her light.
The teacher we had Saturday displayed that very same kind of love during our workshop and it took me back to those days in Dr. Ward’s class all those years ago. The teacher, Eve’s, love is so uplifting and powerful just to be in the presence of. It reminds me to be love in everything I do.
In Dr. Ward’s class I learned a lot of facts. Some incredibly interesting that I still remember, with wonder and pleasure today, some not so interesting, most which completely escape my mind today.
But the most valuable thing I learned in that class isn’t something academic or intellectual. It’s not about neuroscience. I got like a C or C – in that class and had to do extra credit work just to get basically the lowest passing grade, which is C-. What I was awakened to in that class is wisdom, not intelligence.
The most valuable lesson I learned in the class is to love in everything I do, and not just love and express love but be that love. Be in the state of love. Be mindful of the love coursing through my veins even if there seems to be nothing and no one before me to bestow it upon. Just bask in my own loving presence.
I want to be that kind of love not just for my work but in everything I do in this life.
“Be love. Be so much love that when others are with you they are love too.”
Be mindful of the journey and not in a hurry to get to the destination. And not just be loving in our work but loving in everything we do even if we would prefer to be doing something else. Even if it’s a task that doesn’t hold our interest. Be mindful of the fact that whatever it is, it’s likely leading to something necessary or good. A boring long drive is getting you to where you have to go. A boring class or stressful day at work is getting you paid or credits you need.
A seemingly pointless hassle may be teaching you a lesson you will later come to realize. Maybe patience or strength or love…
Experiencing even unpleasant things is an indication that we are alive. Cherish it.
And be loving and mindful of the love with people we are around, whether we know and like them or not. Be loving with pets, friends, family, strangers, all sentient beings, all living things. Love to love, not merely to be loved. Be loving even through pain, grief, despair, anger. Be loving through happiness and joy.
Be grateful for the purpose that things serve.
“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.” ~
Even if we feel that we can’t or won’t BE love everywhere, then it’s good to BE love in certain aspects of life, if you won’t be loving at work, be at home. If you won’t be loving at home then be at work or with your favorite fun activity or in general. Be love in your relation to your own self. We all have love in us but it’s not always at our surface, readily available. Sometimes other things are more prominent at that moment, like anger, boredom, exhaustion, agitation, grief, depression, anxiety, fear, the desire to be right, tiredness, numbness, wishing for something else, jealousy, ignorance, just a lack of passion, a feeling of monotony…
But we can learn to tap into that love more often, summon those loving feelings when we realize we are currently not consciously experiencing it.
Be love in the most simplest and mundane tasks. Washing our clothes, brushing our teeth, shower….and we will become even deeper love. We will train our brains to be even more loving and happier doing things we would prefer not to have to do. And just doing everyday tasks that are usually no big thrill.
Dr. Ward’s love for her work and Neuroscience inspired me and still inspires me. Not to love Neuroscience. This isn’t one of those amazing stories where a teacher inspires a student to fall in love with a subject she never had one ounce of interest in then she grows up and becomes a teacher herself for that very subject.
I’ll never be a neuroscientist.
This is my story of how a teacher’s (whether the person is a school teacher, college professor or instructor, or a religious teacher…) love can inspire love in general. And not just a teacher but anyone. You, me, a child or a very old person, a homeless person, a rich person, your neighbor, friend, or sister…anyone.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~Confucius
I will be love everywhere I go.
Doesn’t this lesson seem even more valuable than any school degree? I think so! It took me a while to learn to apply and practice this life lesson. Sometimes we experience something but do not process it or realize it for many years later. I noticed back then her awe-provoking love for her work and I was inspired but I did not always try to emulate it consciously in most of the things I do. I’m very thankful for the Buddhist teacher’s reminder on Saturday. She reminded me not in what she said but in all that she IS.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
Sometimes the best reminders and examples are not verbal ones. We are influencing and inspiring and teaching each other in the ways that we live, move, talk, and just in the way we are.
Much love to you. ❤
Xoxo Kim ❤
p.s. I have/have had other professors/teachers/people who inspire me just as much in similar/various ways and they will be in some of my future posts! 😀 ❤