June 6, 2000
There's a thunderstorm this evening, so moths and mosquitoes and other bugs keep flying to the candle I burn on the windowsill. I fall asleep to the sound of rain, but awaken in the wee hours of the night with a tickling sensation in my right ear. You know? Like after you go swimming and there's still water in your ear? I shake my head over and over again, trying to get rid of this feeling. I figure if I rest my head on my right side, it will drain. At first it seems to work, but then it stops. Argh.
After a few minutes of this my frustration mounts. I wake up Regula, a girl from Switzerland who's sleeping on the cot next to me. Coralie, from Australia, dozes on the floor, oblivious to my shaking and squirming. Regula is a doctor and she looks into my ear with her headlamp, saying, "No, it's nothing, I don't see anything." I trust her judgement, so I go back to sleep. But the sensation now feels EVEN MORE strong. Ack. Finally, I get some alcohol to try and dissolve whatever is in my ear. I pour it into my ear, shake my head twice, and wait for a millisecond when.....
A BUG FALLS OUT OF MY EAR and onto the bed! I shriek. Coralie wakes up. The bug squirms. Regula wakes up. Regula immediately kills the bug. I keep shrieking: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCKKKKK! The insect is long, thin and brown, with two long antennae. I think it's called an "earwig," but maybe that's because I wigged out when it crawled into my ear.
Anyway, I can't sleep for a long time afterwards, so I go out to the balcony to meditate for a little while. What dawns on me is this message: "All life is one." Here in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and the home of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, I am learning Buddhist teachings and thoughts. Both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa Lama speak continuously of having compassion for all sentient beings.
I imagine this situation from a Buddhist point of view: This little earwig, cold and wet, only comes into our hostel room to dry off. It looks for a place to rest, but there are no rocks under which to crawl. My ear canal, warm and dry and dark and narrow, provides a perfect resting-place, so the little earwig goes in there! When my Swiss friend ends its life, she adds to her karma, I think in a negative way (since she squashes the innocent bug). However, she is a doctor. Her business is saving lives, so perhaps her positive karma evens out this negative karma. Regardless, the bug will now, according to Buddhist interpretation, be reborn just like any sentient being. All life is one.
p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...firstname.lastname@example.org
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