Monday, May 19, 2003

The Doorway

Thought for the Day: When Things Fall Apart

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of
healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome
the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.
They come together and they fall apart. then they come together
again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes
from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief,
for relief, for misery, for joy.

When we think something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t
know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is
going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room
for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do
what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never
know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a
big disappointment, we don’t know if that the end of the story.
It may be just the beginning of a great adventure....

...Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always
in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums
itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center,
in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t
get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.
It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.

To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with
a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and
wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening.
Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing
in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the
spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of
gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path
of the warrior. We catch ourselves one zillion times as once
again, whether we like it or not, we harden into resentment,
bitterness, righteous indignation—harden in any way, even
into a sense of relief, a sense of inspiration.

Every day we could think about the aggression in the world,
in New York, Los Angeles, Halifax, Taiwan, Beirut, Kuwait,
Somalia, Iraq, everywhere. All over the world, everybody
always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates
forever. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves,
“Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?” Every day,
at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves,
“Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?”

---from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

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