A lesson in conscious uncoupling

Joey Garcia

My son’s father and I have been divorced for 15 years. It was a difficult marriage and dissolution. My ex-husband had a drinking problem and is dying. He has no one but my son. I tell myself that it’s his karma so I don’t have to get involved. And then I think I should step in to help because spiritually, it’s the thing to do. I would appreciate your opinion.

Karma is a religious doctrine. Its intention is to inspire consolation when life is not proceeding as we expected, and to prompt our reflection on how we contributed to the difficulty. In Western thought, karma is popularized as retribution because the belief that someone got what they deserved—whether bad or good—makes Western minds feel better. This manipulation of karma fits well into the black-and-white thinking (no gray areas) that Western education celebrates. That’s also why karma is taught here as: if you do good deeds, good comes to you. This interpretation of karma promises a payoff, a close-to-immediate gratification for our actions. It’s like heaven for Christians but without the wait. But there’s nothing spiritual about doing something to get something in return.

Spirituality is the path of doing what is right because right action aligns our mind, body and soul with the Divine. We engage in right actions because we choose to be one with God. We would make that choice even if it meant losing everything and everyone else. So, the true doctrine of karma is not about earning credits, it’s about union with God. And, if you dislike the word “God,” consider karma a means of living from the Buddha mind.

Ah, yes, the Buddha mind: enlightened thinking. It’s so rare, but here is what it looks like in your situation: You enter the stream of compassion for your son’s father. You care for him as you would a broken limb on your own body. Your tenderness in these actions is fully aligned with your intelligence in self-care. That means you do not overdo but you do all that you sanely can. In this way, you show your son what it means to love those who do not love themselves, or you. Your son learns what it means to love others while maintaining the healthy boundaries necessary for self-care.

Remember, too, that you can request help from others. Your friends will help because they love you and your son. If you request support from others, you will see that helping your son’s father to die with dignity is an engagement of community. It is not a path toward personal exhaustion. All along the way, check in with yourself to discover the thoughts that attempt to drive you toward honesty or away from it. Stay conscious. Silent meditation helps.

I’m a 37-year-old entrepreneur. If business isn’t thriving, I won’t date. I find it hard to identify my value as a partner when my finances aren’t in order. And, even though my mind and heart have never felt healthier, I make myself socially unavailable. I haven’t pursued love in years. I’m feeling it. What gives?

Entrepreneurs are skilled at discovering what is missing and engaging their creative juices to employ a viable solution. But pouring yourself into work has skewed your perspective. Your value is infinitely higher than the sum of any bank account. You may also have imagined that a partner will steal energy from your work. That’s possible. Or you could meet someone who contributes to your work or whose joyfulness invites you to play more so that you work with greater efficiency. So, what would you lose if you let yourself have it all? Fear, probably. Work your way into that life.

Meditation of the week
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn,” wrote Alvin Toffler, author and futurist. What would it take to erase what has been, in favor of a blank page and a fresh start?

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