It seems that the longer we live the more we should know, obviously if you have experience after experience one would assume that it all builds into some version of the truth, a foundation that we could use to maintain balance. Sadly, it seems like the opposite is true. As long as our lives are based on mistaken notions, it seems like suffering never ends.
It like an archer aiming an arrow the wrong direction, no amount of wind or luck is going to put the arrow on a true path to the bulls eye. If we begin with false notions our lives will go the same way. My daily Zazen feels like that archer re aiming his bow a little closer to the true direction. Each day a little more correction, A little adjustment, and hopefully the arrow flies in the right direction.
I find that I get annoyed with other peoples annoyance. its a bad habit that I’m really working hard on. When i read of some tattooer bitching about biting, or the ‘good ole’ days’ or how tattooing sucks now it frustrates me to a point that I am embarrassed to feel. I love tattooing and its given me back what Ive put into it time and time again so i suppose I feel defensive, but its not only that. I see these people as suffering and it annoys the shit out of me to see someone causing dissatisfaction to themselves and not even being aware that it comes from them! I hate to see the ‘out there’ blamed for what is clearly ‘in here’.
Of course, the fact that it bothers me is the same thing on my part. Sometimes Buddhism is a pain in the ass, you cant hide from bullshit of any kind, especially not your own!
In Buddhism we are continually reminded that compassion is not the same as pity. True compassion is feeling what others feel because you realise they are you and vice versa, its a recognition of the universal nature of their suffering. Pity, on the other hand, is simply feeling bad for others because they have it so bad compared to us. And its that comparison is the problem, we are elevating ourselves ( Ive got it so right) and lowering them (poor bastards don’t have what i do). Honesty, what I feel for other tattooers is pity and it makes me a little disgusted with myself.
Secondly, a wise person (Cara) once told me “If you spot it, you got it” meaning that we we see a failing in another then 99% of the time its because we see that same failing in ourselves and don’t want to admit it! The clearest example of this is someone who gossips to someone else about how much a third person talks behind peoples backs! If you take the time to examine your own dislikes and the things that annoy or trouble us about others then it usually points to those same faults in yourself! How bad does that suck!? But the truth doest care if its easy or hard, it just is, the trick is training our minds to deal with it as it really is.We can take those wise words (if you spot it you got it) as a cue to examine ourselves when something annoys us about another person.
Obviously being disgusted by what Hitler did doesn’t mean we are all genocidal dictators, but if we get mad at a friend who complains too much what are the chances that we ourselves share the same trait? Pretty good, in my experience.
In this case I think its fairly clear that I have some firm notions about what is right and wrong in tattooing and am very opinionated about it, when i see this trait in others it irks me because , subconsciously at least, I’m seeing the same bitter quality in myself. Now that I am more aware of it I can work on it instead of contemplating what angry letters I’m going to write to tattoo magazines or post on tattoo forums I can sit with this part of myself and learn to accept my fellow tattooers with compassion instead of pity. I can try to re-aim the bow a little bit closer to the bulls-eye.