I was headed to teach my little ESL class a few weeks ago at the Buddhist Meditation Center. I was driving in five o'clock traffic and I was running late. Traffic in Atlanta can be truly terrible. And it was.
As I exited the superhighway (12 lanes across), a man in a fast car cut me off and zipped past me, honking his horn.
I have only been late to meet with the monk once, and it is very bad form. I understand the importance of being on time for that meeting. I felt lots of pressure to be on time.
As this man zipped past and honked, I honked my horn right back and then I shot a bird at that rude driver. I hardly ever do that. But he was such a jerk. And what nerve! He was making me late to go work with the... monk... and the... staff... at the... Buddhist... meditation,,, center. Awww, man! I just totally blew it.
One of the benefits of meditating is supposed to be evolving to a more kind, compassionate mindset. You are supposedly building your merit whenever you meditate. You attract good things to you when you meditate and do good deeds (like teach an ESL class). When you get enough good deeds piled up, then you reach enlightenment.
It occurred to me as I sat in my little car, trudging toward my little class, having just lost it at a rude Atlanta driver, it occurred to me that I might not reach enlightenment in this lifetime. I just might not get there, For a moment, I had a good look at how far off it is and it seemed like a long, long way. In Georgia, where I am from, we would say, "It's a ways off." Enlightenment, for me, may be a ways off. It's okay. I can still build up a big pile of good deeds. And drive around Atlanta, doing good deeds, flicking people off... reaching enlightenment... slowly. Very slowly.