Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sogyal Rinpoche on Suffering

[image source]

This is the Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:

Don’t we know, only too well, that protection from pain doesn’t work, and that when we try to defend ourselves from suffering, we only suffer more and don’t learn what we can from the experience? As Rilke wrote, the protected heart that is “never exposed to loss, innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness; only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied: free, through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche
I'm going to go off on a rant here, so please bear with me.

In our culture, we seem to value youth, beauty, and perfection. We want smooth skin, perfect bodies, flat emotions, and any number of other things that actually deny life and living. We do not want to be touched by life or the world.

We do not want scars, so we use creams to make scars disappear. We do not want hard emotions, so we takes drugs that flatten our affect until we feel very little. We do not want wrinkles or sags, so we get plastic surgery to smooth everything out. We do not want gray hair, so we color our hair to hide that reality of our aging.

All of these things are ways of denying our life. Rather than face the truth of aging and death, we fight it tooth and nail, deny it as much as possible, then rage that we will not go gently into that good night.

But we can't escape suffering and death -- we can only delay it until later. If we embrace our suffering, accept it, befriend it, then it will lack the power to shadow our every thought and action. Unless we do this, our whole lives will be about suffering.

When we resist suffering, it feels solid, dense, formidable. It can appear to be like a wall that we can't climb over, find a way around, or punch our way through. But if we accept our suffering, and get to know it, then it is no more imposing than a stream we must cross. Our feet might get wet, but we do not fear drowning.

If we could spend some time learning to swim in the creek, our lives might feel a lot lighter.

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