Treat the battlefield as a playground
Note: While I am on vacation this week (returning to the office on August 18), I will be updating or re-posting some prior Underdog entries, including the following from March 23, 2013:
My teacher Ram Dass talks of everyone being connected to everyone and everything else, to the point that if we reached non-duality, we would perceive of everything and everyone as an indivisible whole. See page 173 (apparently from Ram Dass’s 1970’s lecture in Maryland).
If that is true, then how can we view life and our interactions with life, others, and things, as anything other than spending time in our own playground?
But then we get challenged with learning about and witnessing war, murder, natural disasters that kill, and people acting rotten. All that challenges even our days that start the most optimistically.
At my best, I vibrate highly for my clients, witnesses, legal team and me as we pursue the criminal defense battle. Humor, music (made of and emanating with vibrations), and magic — in discovering, cultivating, and delighting in my own personal magic and in benefiting from my four decades as an amateur magician – help me on that path. So does this passage by Ringu Tulku that helped matters unfold all the better for me in a book I bought several years ago: See "directly without adding any concept or philosophy. Within this clear vision there is not the slightest doubt about anything, so there is no need for clinging or running away… Although we see that others are suffering greatly, we know that their suffering is almost needless. They are not doomed to be in pain, because their suffering just comes from a wrong way of seeing and reacting. If they could see how things truly are, they would not suffer anymore." Ringu Tulku, Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Buddhism at 58 (Snow Lion Publications, 2005).
As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says: "A controlled mind will remain calm and happy no matter what the conditions." How to reach that controlled mind that will remain calm and happy? For me, it starts with finding fulfillment from inside me, and not from the vagaries of the weather, time, and public opinion. To find fulfillment from inside, one must find peace. Meditation and mindfulness are an important part of that, whether the moving meditation of taijiquan or sitting meditation. So is following the path of zero. There is no out there for the mind. Everything unfolds from finding internal fulfillment.
When I feel fulfilled, unblocked, and abundant in my health and well being, I am closer to success for my clients and me, and in inspiring my clients — and having them inspire me back — on the path to victory. When I wake up feeling dread over the state of the world, I am helping nobody.
What use is it for me to get upset or to worry over even the most trying situations? -As Shantideva said:: "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying. If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?"
A friend recently asked me how I keep my bearings when a client shares his or her darkest side, worries, fears and dreams. I said that I engage with my clients without getting sucked into any funks they have. This is easier to do with all the experience I have dealing with that. By my having empathy and compassion for my client and myself as s/he shares even potentially shocking information with me, I can avoid being sucked into my own emotional abyss.
It is important that I vibrate highly in every aspect of my professional and private life. Part of keeping the good flow of energy and high vibrations is for lawyers not to judge their clients. Too much of that goes on already by cops, prosecutors and judges. A lawyer who judges his or her client is akin to having muddied windshields. For a lawyer to see clearly for his/her client, s/he needs to not judge the client, and to keep those windshields clean and unobstructed.
My role is not to judge my client, but to walk and fight every step of the way with my client. Furthermore, as Publius Terence aptly said so long ago: Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto./I am human: nothing human is alien to me. Thich Nhat Hanh takes Publius Terrence a step further in his poem "Please Call Me by My True Names," recognizing that but for his fortune in experience, resources, compassion and wisdom from an early age, he could have become the child raped by a pirate as well as the pirate who raped her, "my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving."
As we go through the day and life with positive energy and vibrations, compassion and empathy for all (and I mean all, with no exceptions), feeling connected to all, and non-judgment (in all respects, including not judging our own selves, our own actions, and each moment that takes place), the magic mirror will take hold for others to do the same with and for us.
All this is not about taking a syrupy, Shirley Temple-like overly optimistic view on life, but is instead about transcending the perceived boundaries in persuading, eliminating injustice, making this world a better place, and making our lives much more happy and fulfilled at the same time.
My blog entry from two weeks ago talks about judges’ obligations not to abuse nor neglect their duties. However, that must not detract from my central responsibility to be my persuasive and prepared best for my client, unobstructed as possible during the battle, and inspiring even the most heartless-seeming judge to find and open his or her heart.
If a judge unfairly berates me in my client’s presence, I can try my best to view it as no more than the wind, as a taijiquan teacher once characterized anyone’s tirades, but that does not mean that I am to remain silent, rather than to move to neutralize the wind.
At my best, before appearing before a judge whom I prefer to transition off the bench, I can to myself, or aloud when alone, sincerely wish the judge well. Here is a great metta blessing (thanks to my wife for encouraging me to bless all in the courtroom, and to my teacher Sharon Salzberg for providing the following words) to say to myself and then to the judge, prosecutor, cop, or anyone else I am not enamored of:
First for me.
"May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be free from internal and external harm. May I be healthy and strong. May I find joy in the joy of others. May I live with ease. May I live in peace and with hope."
Then I can repeat the same blessing for others, working from my loved ones, to my friends, to my staff, to my clients, to my acquaintances, and to my perceived adversaries.
Now to bless the judge, with full compassion and insight:
"May Judge Pond be safe. May Judge Pond be happy. May Judge Pond be free from internal and external harm. May Judge Pond be healthy and strong. May Judge Pond find joy in the joy of others. May Judge Pond live with ease. May Judge Pond live in peace and with hope."
After saying this blessing to myself and the judge, I now have something bonding myself to the judge, which is for us both to have a day of happiness, limited struggles, no harm, strength, peace and hope. Now, if the judge barks at me, cuts me off, or slams my client, it is time for me to ask what I can do to return to being at one with the judge and to inspire the judge to do justice, in bringing the judge to my point of view and to my winning goal.
Let life and the battlefield continue to be my playground.