Right Action

Last week I was at Lowe’s purchasing two chaise lounge chairs for my deck. Once found, I loaded the chairs onto the trolley and continued shopping for, you know, stuff from Lowe’s that you really don’t need but looks kind of fun. As I was checking out I did what I always do and, using mental math, guessed the final amount. I laughed out loud at how wrong my mental calculation was.

Still perplexed, I did the mental calculations again while walking to the car and came to the conclusion that the chaise lounge chairs at $158 each were either on sale or that I wasn’t charged for both chairs. I glanced at my receipt and wouldn’t you know, I was charged for just one chair! In that next moment, I looked up to the sky and smiled. The Buddhists call this an auspicious occurrence. It is a moment of calmness and presence when we can sense the unfolding of opportunity and choice.

In this auspicious occurrence, I paused, took a deep breath and waited for I knew that the “devil” was about to rear it’s ugly head. And, there it was whispering in my ear, “no one will ever know”, “those chairs were too expensive anyway”, yada, yada, yada.

Knowing immediately upon realizing that I had been charged for one chair that I was going to go back and pay for the second one, I delighted in observing my sneaky self as it attempted to convince me to just drive away. It was fascinating to watch the false mind and the conscious mind interact.

As you can imagine, the cashier was tripping over himself with praise and gratitude for my honesty when I told him why I was back. I told him that I really didn’t do anything special, I just did the right thing and that I could never sit on the chair and relax knowing that I stole it.

The Buddhists call this Right Action and it is part of the Noble Eight Fold Path, which, together with the Four Noble Truths constitutes the gist of Buddhism. My meditation and yoga practices coupled with my studies helped me, without hesitation, to direct my compass in the right direction which in this case was straight back to the cashier with my credit card in hand.

I drove home smiling at what a wonderful opportunity I had been given to observe how choices unfold in our lives. This one ended well, however, if I don’t pay attention, the next one might not. Little mistakes happen, white lies slip out and I have certainly not  “arrived” anywhere yet. But what an incredible journey it is!

Comments 4

  1. and this is why you are who you are- integrity, a virtue some “talk” about but few actually have integrated into their own life practices–and your ability to practice svadhyaya–this is what makes you a true teacher

  2. It’s these little things that have such a big impact. I think of the floor manager, or the sales associate, who may have been held accountable for the loss. By your right action, you made their day better, even if they never realize it! And what a good example, that cashier will be telling that story for a long time. Lots of positive ripples from this one act of integrity.

  3. Life is simple when you know the difference between right and wrong and do it! Thanks for reminding me that there are still good people out there.

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