Letting go – Makeda’s Style
Makeda was kind enough to come to the temple to talk to us about her life, spiritual journey and the World Beat Center, which she runs. Before she came, Jeff told us a couple of times that we should be very grateful and honored for her visit. Jeff has a lot of respect for all of the speakers that come to talk to the Dharma Bum Life program; however I could tell that there was something about this lady that he thought was extra special.
Before her visit, I had seen Makeda on TV a couple of times and on the World Beat Center website and I was excited that she was coming to talk to us. Not so much because I thought that she might teach me a life changing spiritual lesson, but because she looked like a fun, free spirited, reggae type of lady who exudes good vibes and that for sure would keep us entertained.
I felt short with my assumption. On the one hand, I was right about her happy and upbeat demeanor and about her ability to keep us amused for over and hour and a half with her life stories and experiences. However, she was also able to teach me (and I think that the rest of the Dharma Bums as well) about using our suffering to let go of it.
That night we learned that this bubbly lady had had a pretty rough childhood. We heard about the times she felt discriminated and how she had to fight harder than most of us to achieve her dreams. We learned that most of her friends had decided to move out of San Diego and that she decided to stay to take care of the parents, despite the fact that it was them who caused a lot of her suffering. But despite the sad stories, this was not a sad presentation. Amazingly, as she talked about her suffering, there was no one bit of resentfulness or anger coming out of Makeda’s voice, in fact it was obvious that she embraced her past misfortunes. Makeda is a talented DJ, successful entrepreneur, love spreading cool reggae lady because she suffered and because she was able to let it go.
That night I started to realize that letting go is not actually a passive thing to do. For a long time, before that night, I had been trying to “let go” by having an “I don’t care if bad things happen to me” attitude because if I stopped caring it would stop affecting me and thus I would stop suffering. My technique worked to an extent, I did stop caring, but the suffering did not stop....I could not understand why, it was so unfair (oh no poor me!).
Makeda’s story taught me that effective letting go is an active empowering action. In order to stop my suffering I must be accountable for it, which means coming up with an effective plan to end it. Makeda does not feel like a victim of her difficult childhood, or her irresponsible parents. She does not use her past to feel sorry for herself and to blame everything bad on the fact that she had it tough. But she doesn’t pretend that she doesn’t care or that it never happened either. She embraces and learns from the pain and uses it to emerge strong and to accomplish her dreams. I am pretty sure that the World Beat Center (a wonderful organization by the way) would not be a reality if Makeda had grown up being spoiled.
So now everything that I have learned in the Dharma Bums Life program comes together. I am lucky enough to have been given the tools to come up with my plan to end my suffering. Yes meditation is difficult and yes finding the will to practice the six perfections can be time consuming, but I am not a victim here, I will not fuel my suffering or bad Karma by complaining even more. I will take this tools and I will use them because it is up to me and that is pretty freaking cool.
Dharma Bum Francesca