Becoming deaf

I am aging again and it is not my first time. Well, not in this lifetime but in many previous lives too. Eyes are not as sharp and hearing is failing too. It is something that runs in my family, our hearing tends to decline sharply when we pass our 40th birthday.

If I think about life’s impermanence, I feel grateful that I get to experience this partial deafness now. Not everyone gets to live pass their 40s.

The world had become a quieter place for me; when I am not wearing my hearing aid. Noise hardly disturb my sleep and meditation. In a way, it helps me understand that, the world I experience, is contributed by my senses. If I had been born deaf, then my “reality” would have been different from birth. I am thankful, that I had the opportunity to hear the various sutra and mantra.

However, the process of losing my audio perception wasn’t always amusing. I had always hoped that it would skip me, just like some of my fortunate relatives. I was in denial when it happened. I did not believe my hearing was failing that fast. It was a difficult time for me and the people around me. Unbeknownst to all, I was habitually second guessing what people are saying without myself even realising it!

Going deaf was a frustrating experience and will still be, if my mind is not in equanimity. I am fortunate to have encountered Dharma,for it taught me to see things differently.

The face of people smiling at you with sympathy or amusement can be twisted into a sinister mocking face, if the mind is behaving badly. Now, I try to remind myself that I had just given others a chance to practice compassion or had just provided them some laughter.

Waving in your face to get your attention can be interpreted as trying to embarass you in office (if the mind is naughty). Now, I try to remind myself that they are just being considerate or practical.

Walking away and saying “Nevermind” while waving you off can be so so offensive, especially because I did not catch what they are saying. But I tell myself, That temple friend is giving me an opportunity to practice patience and humility.

“This is Richmond and he is partially deaf” Such introduction can be demeaning. when I am egoistic. ‘Oh, I see, now my title is Richmond the deaf, is it?!’ You see, it used to be “This is Richmond and he has good knowledge of Buddhism.” I try to remind myself that people are just getting the stranger to speak louder, that’s actually goodwill.

While it is true that suffering is caused by my own mind, but I am unenlightened still. Likewise for many other people with disabilities.

Sometimes our unintentional action or goodwill can become a source of pain to others too. I have been guilty of that too.

Now that I am going deaf, I realized my past mistake. To simply imagine the plight of others and then act with pretentious kindness is not real kindness. It is like the rich person giving expensive school bags to starving kids.

It is all about our heart / mind.

If we are truly sincere and really considerate, our actions will be different. The tone of our voice will be different. Our mind and thoughts will be different. And that will make a world of differences for others. Try not to be pretentious.

May all be well and happy.

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