Difficult outer circumstances make it clear how much more work is left to be done inside. Sitting, walking, swimming, driving, alone, or with others, I have been getting hardly any rest from the unpleasantness. I am also aware enough to know that there is no way out other than to go through the discomfort. With each peak of suffering, comes a new insight, a little more wisdom. Tonight, as I type these words, the pain is right there, oozing out of my fingers, a mixture of anger, sadness, tiredness, and fear. Lots of unpleasant vedana, and the immediate temptation to make matters worse with some added aversion to the feeling itself. I could sit some more but it is getting late, and I lack the energy for more meditation. No, instead, I shall turn to Ayya Khema:
There is a lovely story from Nazrudin, a Sufi Master, who was gifted in telling absurd tales. One day, the story goes, he sent one of his disciples to the market and asked him to buy him a bag of chilies. The disciple did as requested and brought the bag to Nazrudin, who began to eat the chilies, one after another. Soon his face turned red, his nose started running, his eyes began to water and he was choking. The disciple observed this for a while with awe and then said: "Sir, your face is turning red, your eyes are watering and you are choking. Why don't you stop eating these chilies?" Nazrudin replied: "I am waiting for a sweet one."
The teaching aid of chilies! We, too, are waiting for something, somewhere that will create peace and happiness for us. Meanwhile there is nothing but dukkha, the eyes are watering, the nose is running, but we won't stop our own creations. There must be a sweet one at the bottom of the bag! It's no use thinking, hearing or reading about it, the only effective way is to look inside one's own heart and see with understanding. The more the heart is full of wanting and desiring, the harder and more difficult life becomes.
This is my problem. I keep on hoping for some idea of sweetness that exists in my mind only. Walking the dogs earlier, the smell of jasmine caught me, delicious, lingering. Nothing else to be experienced, but the jasmine sweetness . . . That is if mind hadn't cluttered the moment with some self-made agitation.