Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Old Relationships, New Possibilities

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Old Relationships, New Possibilities | Tricycle Magazine

In Tibet they say there is a lake where, during a particular full moon each year, the seal-like creatures who live there gather fish in their mouths and offer them up to hordes of owls who hover in the trees above, waiting to eat. There is no apparent reason for the seals to offer the fish other than the fact that the owls seem to expect it. As the story goes, the seals gain nothing from offering the fish, and the owls are never satisfied. So, they say, since there is no obvious reason for this dynamic to be as it is, “it must be lenchak.”

The lenchak dynamic has two sides: the seal side and the owl side. If we are the seal, we feel an unspoken emotional responsibility for someone else’s mind and well-being. We feel pulled toward this person as if they have a claim on us. It’s a strong visceral experience, and we have a physical reaction to it: the phone rings and we check our caller ID—it’s “the owl.” We should pick it up, but we are overcome by a strong wave of anxiety and repulsion, as if we are being attacked by our own nervous system. We brace ourselves for a problem or a strong emotional download. As much as we want to detach ourselves from this person, we can’t break loose; it’s as if they have captured us, and there’s no escape— checkmate! Of course, this is not the case. In truth we are held hostage by our own attachment, guilt, and inability to resist the pain that comes from feeling unreasonably responsible for them. On one hand, we can’t bear watching the owl struggle. On the other hand, we can’t let go. This dynamic brings us down; it makes us lose our luster as human beings.  MORE…

Author: Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

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