Jacob the teacher
Jacob, almost seventy, was in the midstages of Alzheimer's disease. A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than
twenty years, he was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks-cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.
Jacob had occasionally given talks about Buddhism to local groups and had
accepted an invitation to address a gathering of over a hundred
meditation students. He arrived at the event feeling alert and eager to share the teachings he love. Taking his seat in front of the hall,
Jacob looked out at the expectant faces before him . and suddenly he didn't know what he was supposed to say or do. He didn't know where he was or why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.
Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: 'Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I'm falling, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.' For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud.
At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered,
Many of the students were in tears. As one put it, 'No one has ever taught us like this. Your presence has been the deepest teaching.' Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way he didn't create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. *He didn't make anything wrong.*
~ from *Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha,* by Tara Brach, Ph.D."