|Last Sunday, I attended a talk by Lama Tashi, a Grammy award-winning musician and Chant Master for his holiness, the Dalai Lama. After getting settled, Lama Tashi began with a booming chant so deep I felt it in my toes. (Click here to listen to one of his chants.)
Afterward, he spoke about the depression he’d faced following the death of two loved ones. For a while, his suffering was inescapable. Then he spoke with a fellow monk about his struggles. The monk laughed and teased him, saying, “How can a monk who’s practiced for so many years be depressed?”
Lama Tashi nodded and laughed along with him. The monk was right. He’d been practicing since he was seventeen. This made no sense.
As he explored the cause of his suffering, he realized that most of his practice had been for his next life, not the one he was currently living.
The lesson hit home.
How often do writers fantasize about the lives we’ll lead when we:
finish our manuscript,
sell our books,
have the perfect author platform,
know how to confidently market ourselves,
have the time and ability to write the next one.
Some of us are willing to sacrifice the lives we’re currently leading to get there.
But should you?
If you’ve been writing for a while, you know how steep the learning curve is, and how many burdens are placed on writers. Given the many shifts happening in the publishing industry, this is unlikely to change. But that doesn’t have to stymie your writing or shrink your life down to a series of write-work-sleep cycles.
We can—and should—lead vibrant lives. That’s where stories come from. , it’s also what you deserve.
Before sharing what helped him, Lama Tashi revealed the difference between love and compassion. Love is when we wish another happiness. Compassion is when we wish others freedom from pain. To have compassion, we must see how someone’s pain traps them in a state of suffering. Seeing the suffering softens our hearts.
The process requires us to protect our hearts, or the most fundamental part of who we are. Lama Tashi said that when he faces an obstacle, he uses his head to solve the problem, but doesn’t let the issue penetrate his heart. I took that to mean he doesn’t let his interactions affect how he sees himself.
To be loving and compassionate, he employs two daily practices: he forgives everyone before going to bed, then he fills his head with thought of loving compassion as he goes to sleep.
When you see Lama Tashi smile, it’s clear his heart is well protected.
His talk was extremely timely given this Wednesday’s webinar, Writing the Proposal: How to Finish and Sell Your Nonfiction Book.
While the session will teach writers how to use certain parts of the proposal to build confidence and increase marketability, part of the presentation will cover some essential book-proposal psychology. This is so important because the proposal is not for the faint of heart. Some writers burn themselves out by pushing too hard. Others get discouraged and lose their creativity. Then there are those who skim the sections, swoon in a deep state of overwhelm, then tuck their very good book ideas back in their desk.
You know what all that leads to?
The depression Lama Tashi referred to.
There is a saner way to live. It may take some practice, and it may require you to do some uncomfortable things, but the result will be a writing life that energizes you and generates material for this book and the next one.
To do this, we need to protect our hearts, love ourselves deeply, work to ease our suffering, and live in the present moment.
Until next week, I wish you happiness, an end to any suffering, and the time and ease needed to always write on.
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