Friday, December 28, 2012

No Way of Escaping

One, two, three, four, and a few more times this past week, I was faced with unpleasantness. It started with a lost piece of luggage, and from there manifested in various ways, some minor, some  not so.  Each time, I heeded Ruth's teaching on vedana:

If you are not aware of the unpleasantness it will snowball and leave the door open for more unpleasantness. If you are aware of the pleasantness, it will also snowball, but in the direction of more pleasantness. Two big reasons to be aware of vedana at all times . . .

I also remembered Rumi:

Don't turn your head. Keep looking
at the bandaged place.

That is where the light enters you.

I made it a point to not turn my head, and to keep looking at the bandaged place. And at the same time, I did not go as far as welcoming the unpleasantness with a laugh:

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Simply acknowledging the unpleasantness, and leaving it alone. Not turning away, and not embracing either.

Right now, there is unpleasantness, that's all. That is how life is, a constant roller coaster of pleasantness, unpleasantness, and more neutral states. We are all subjected to it, and our only freedom lies in not getting caught up in the angst from such a bumpy ride. 

Whether a suitcase at the mercy of Air France's very imperfect system, a constantly shifting relationship with  mother with Alzheimer's, a long held friendship threatened by cancer, precarious peace at home, a front door that won't open because of a key mistakenly left on the inside, the painful evidence of unreturned love from most dear one, the news of some nasty backstabbing at work . . . in each case, only one way but the recognition of the truth of the fourth remembrance:

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. 
There is no way to escape being separated from them.

Setting the bar low. 


  1. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I find myself coming back to it again and again, comforted by your words and the knowing that there is an antidote to the violent, aggressive messages so prevalent on the internet and in the world.

    With much gratitude from one imperfect human being to another ...

    1. Miriam we are all without exception imperfect human beings. Once we become aware of this it makes life a little easier.

  2. It is all a gift because it all emboldens us in our path to peace. But that doesn't make it a painful gift from time to time. Thinking of you and hoping that you find your way and your peace.

  3. Thank you Miriam for the gift of your shared imperfection, and Michael, for your validation. Unpleasantness and unhappiness are the greatest teachers, and encouragements to practice, I find. And Chris, I like how you phrase it: 'it all emboldens us in our path to peace' . . . Thank you for your wisdom, and compassion.