Choosing the pain

The Daily Dalai: “Encountering sufferings will definitely contribute to the elevation of your spiritual practice, provided you are able to transform calamity and misfortune into the path.”

Don’t you hate it when it feels like he’s talking right to you? Oh boy. This one puts me in the crosshairs. Take a deep breath and relax. No blame.

So what do I see?

For one thing, I think I am a work in progress. Transforming calamity and misfortune into the path implies non-resistance. For me, I’m always looking for a lesson. But I’ve been running from pain for most of my life.

Now that I’m not taking anything but an occasional aspirin for pain, I am clear the decision to stop taking pain meds was a spiritual choice. I want access to the full range of my psychic and spiritual potential.

Because? Because there is so much happiness in serving. Because there is so much suffering. Because I can help.

If I’m disappointed I can always go back to pain medicine.

This is called having nothing to lose, but it’s bluff. I have lots to lose and I know it full well. And I view reliance on pain meds as weakness. What will I learn now that I have set up this experience?

And so, although I don’t have it all sorted out, I am choosing to be with my pain and learn all I can from it. And that is being on the path.

Whew! I think I’m okay.

Peace Now

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” The Daily Dalai.

People are genuinely confused about this. To be a peaceful person, they think means to be always at peace. These same people think that meditation will give them a quiet mind. Talk about “beginner’s mind.”

I think we have a group delusion about what the goal really is. The goal is much like other kinds of goals: to develop the mental and moral muscles to manage for peace, to separate from our minds, to abide in love every bit as much as possible.

You will never be permanently at peace within yourself, but you must develop some chops to manage your less peaceful responses to life.

Your mind will not shut up. It will run on incessantly forever, a perpetual motion machine designed to protect you from threats to your survival.

None of which is a problem. We are here to learn these things, to make these muscles. Keep practicing because the rewards, while not what you expect, are substantial: greater awareness of your real self, sufficient reward in and of itself, but also a healthy reserve with respect to the activities and productions of mind, emotional self-management skills, and of course lower blood pressure and many other health benefits.

Peaceful is not a state of rest. To “be peaceful” is active and practical. First you must get to know yourself, without judgment or reserve. No blame.

To become self-aware is almost simultaneous with becoming compassionate. Once you accept how you yourself are, accepting others is nothing. Forgive yourself and you will forgive others. What’s important is to pick your head up above the noisy river of talk and images that bombards us at eye level. Get a breath of fresh air.