Monday, December 20, 2010

The Truth About Suffering

(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)

Suffering . . . Not a day goes by without it raising its ugly head. I see it in my life, I also see it in others' lives. It comes in the form of moods, destructive behaviors, depression, anxiety, frustration, heart aches and various other afflictions of the mind. Ruth gave a great Dharma talk on the topic:

Even more powerful than listening to Ruth's words, was witnessing her attitude towards her own life. Never once complaining, or feeling sorry for herself, despite the heavy toll of old age on her body. I saw Ruth exhausted from a heavy course of antibiotics, 'shlepping' herself around as she called it. I saw her show up for our early morning meditation, despite crippling arthritis. "I could not move when I woke up, but I forced myself to do 30' of exercises, and I was able to finally get up."I saw her sit with throbbing pain in her leg from a nasty infection, and marvel with us at the gift of life:

"Life, we can live it, or we can miss it."

I remember Ruth, and I tell myself I've got to have the right attitude. Not wishing for another life, other circumstances, as I so often do despite all I already know. This moment is perfect, indeed, with all its imperfections. I also realize, that I shall soon forget again . . .


  1. This is a wonderful reminder for me who lives in a body that protests at many things. I am often aware of how attached I am to wanting good health. It is so helpful for me to hear about folks like Ruth who go on no matter what. I like this: "Life, we can live it, or we can miss it."

  2. Yes, Carole! We give so much power to our body. Being ruled by sense experiences . . .