Friday, April 22, 2011

Suffering & Your Magnificence

I forgot that I'd created this image to go with my BuddhaRocks Violates the Second Precept post, so here it is today. Waste not, want not, better late than never. Hmm what other trite-ism can I wedge in here to prop up my failing memory?

And I actually am going to promise new art with the next post! Yes it's true despite my preoccupation with washing windows and raking up the windfall of at least 10,000 pine cones, I do have a little something new from the studio, but that's another day. On with the show as Bugs Bunny used to say.

It has been a strange week here. Was it the full moon? Ask any emergency room worker and they will tell you about the mayhem of the full moon. And it did feel a bit like a triage unit around here. Confusion over some art placement, a new friend with a cancer diagnosis, a large unexpected bill and a myriad of small sun spots.

It was interesting to watch how I could iron out the first glitch of the week, fold it up neatly and put it in a drawer, but as multiple glitches got tangled in the wringer the mass of unruly laundry seemed to overwhelm. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't quite hang it all out to dry. I couldn't quite wash the stories out of my mind. Okay, enough dirty laundry, already.

A felt sense of unease and unrest followed me around. I felt the restless discomfort of knowing that anything can happen at anytime, a fact we most often avoid or medicate away. Pumpkin muffin, anyone? Would you like coffee with that? When there is no trouble in paradise it feels okay to say, "anything can happen at anytime" but somehow as the waves of dukkha rolled in, I had this sense that I was drowning in them. I felt the need to look over my shoulder to see what was coming. I felt the truth that there was no high ground to run to. And so the week was filled with an edgy restlessness and a strange craving for some Dharmic understanding that would help me let go of it all.

And there was the lesson. I couldn't make it go away. As my friend the Zen monk used to say, "it's not on our timelines." My week was restless and edgy, that was it. And as I quietly washed windows today and took time to just look at the clumps of spring green grass, everything just was. The restlessness abated and everything was okay.

I will end with a quote on suffering from Phillip Moffitt entitled "Suffering is Noble":

Suffering has gained a bad reputation in Western society. We view it as a mistake, something shameful, or a sign of powerlessness and inadequacy. Many, maybe most, people have a conscious or unconscious bias against the idea that their suffering is noble. It is ironic that this attitude prevails when just the opposite is true: Your suffering presents an opportunity for the most relevant, sophisticated, inspiring, and useful inquiry you could conduct in your life. The Buddha called the Truth of Dukkha “noble” precisely because suffering requires that which is most magnificent in you to come forth.

from "Dancing with Life"


  1. Wow. Great post. The poem is absolutely beautiful. I truly believe that - with suffering comes beauty and magnificence on the other side. I recently saw a TED talk about a woman who went through an incredibly traumatic experience, talking about how it was the best gift she's ever been given. It's very short, so I will leave out the description and post it here:

  2. Spirit - I will check out the TED link! As Moffitt says he does go against everything that we seem to have bought hook line and sinker! It's a turning, don't you think to see it as valuable? And of course to embrace it all, kinda Zorba the Greek style.

  3. Strange week indeed! The laundry isn't working to wash those stories away for me either, I keep getting caught in the spin cycle. :) I'll take that Dharma and Pumpkin Muffin please...

    I love the metaphor of cleaning the windows and seeing *through*, accepting what you see and feel, with the return of peace...

    Another wonderful photo image. I even detect a bit of a smile on his face, amused by the whole"BuddhaRocks" thing :)

    I'll check out that TED talk link as well.

  4. Oh a pumpkin muffin will go well with my chai. Thank you. And thank you for removing the Webring which was getting in the way of my craving to post comments. ;-)

    It's all dose-related. The right amount of suffering gets us healthy. Problem is we have a pre-conceived notion of what the "right" amount is for us. Me, I keep thinking mega-doses will get me enlightened faster. Hah!


  5. thank you carole -- for this post and all your reports of life in your precious corner. that quote about suffer, yes! where would I be without it? it's honed my awareness and appreciation, my compassion and joy. something about being forged by fierce flames (Dante?). May your life go well, this and all days. daishin

  6. MeANderi - Trust you to "see" the cleaning of the windows as fitting in to the picture! I hadn't even thought of that. It is interesting the things we get up to sometimes on a subconscious level . And of course the cynic in me, reminds me of one of my daughter's favourite quips, "sometimes a fox is just a fox" This week I think the washing of windows was indeed needed!

    Genju - I love that "it's all dose related". Isn't this so true and yet sometimes we don't get to be the dispensary! But good to remember where we can choose!

    Peter - Yes, following your posts is indeed a lesson laid out for us of "being forged by fierce flames" And it is so helpful to see its movement. Thanks as always for your wonderful sharing. I delight in the lightness of your life these days!