I stand before you raw and exposed, layers shed, heart bruised – authentic. I picked a flower for a Lama once.It was vibrant, full of sun and awe. On my way to give it to him, through mindlessness, the flower got bruised, petals bent and lacking its pristine lustre. I nursed the flower, gently unfolding the delicate petals. It was not the same but it was still beautiful. Nervously I passed the flower to the Lama, I felt sadness in my heart because it was no longer perfect.’How could I have been so careless I thought?’ I wanted it to be perfect. He took it. I feared judgement. He looked at it carefully all over. I felt exposed. He said nothing and walked away. I felt remorse.
The next day, to my astonishment, the flower sat in place of honour amongst the offerings at the foot of the Buddha. It didn’t need to be perfect. It was still beautiful and worthy of offering to the Buddha despite it’s imperfection? Could this be a lesson?
I’ve walked away from all my supports, built new ones and then burnt them down. I stand exposed but how else do I want to be? Have comfort and ease ever really served me? I fear they have kept me numb and from delving into my lifetime’s pain and fear. Now I have nowhere to hide. Today I had the thought ‘if I can’t face my own pain and fears how can I ever hope to help anyone else? How can I possibly help lift their load if I can’t even bear the weight of my own?’ So now I’m beginning to see that being happy means to embrace all my pain, fear and anger, to enter into it courageously and unflinchingly, to be happy in the face of my own personal suffering.
The nature of this world we live in is suffering. Every moment countless beings are being ripped to pieces, abused and abandoned; we’re all marching straight to the grave – this is so. How to be happy?To realise that happiness does not come as a result of escaping suffering but rather enjoying this precious journey that each of us makes – really soaking in every moment – and taking the suffering that accompanies it without hesitation as it comes. Seeing the stars and the flowers, the laughter and the warmth of people loving each other. To see how fragile this life is and how the precious moments we share with others are so fleeting – we never really know when they will end. To see the pain and confusion in ourselves that connects us so deeply and profoundly to others. This pain is shared pain. We flinch away from it but when we enter it and turn our minds from just ourselves to everyone (including ourselves) then we can really love and empathise and understand all the harm and confusion that we all experience. We can see that everyone is simply doing their best to be happy in a pervasive state of confusion. We all get lost. We all make mistakes. We all conceal aspects of ourselves that are beyond our understanding that become twisted and malignant in the darkness where love does not shine. How can we be angry? How can we blame? We’re all in the same boat drifting in the ocean.
What to do? Stay exposed. Feel. Embrace the pain and sorrow. Make mistakes. Embrace those aspects of ourselves that we fear. That is to say, get to know them for in the darkness that enshrouds them there is a core of light waiting to shine. Drop the self judgement and the judgement of others naturally falls away. Find a reliable reference point that will guide us to land. Cultivate a good heart. Learn the language of the heart and how it truly follow it fearlessly, crazily and without question. Do we really need to know why it yearns for what it does? Maybe we will one day we will if we can trust in that goodness within each of us. In the meantime it is enough to simply live an authentic, open, loving existence living each moment fully and fearlessly and with compassion for all the other seafarers also floating atop the great ocean.